Desperate attempts to revive an American tourist proved fruitless after she was found floating lifelessly while swimming with dolphins in the Marlborough Sounds.
The 27-year-old woman was among a group of tourists, including her husband and his mother, on a dolphin-watching trip in Tory Channel yesterday, when she was discovered floating face down about 11.20am.
Others in the water went to her aid and she was brought to the Dolphin Watch Ecotours vessel, where a doctor among the tourists attempted CPR, while a mayday call was sent to emergency services on shore.
Staff from the nearby New Zealand King Salmon farm noticed unusual activity on the boat and travelled out in a runabout to see if they could help.
They offered the use of an oxygen bottle kept for emergencies, and this was accepted, said the general manager of the company’s aquaculture division, Stewart Hawthorn.
The Ecotours vessel travelled into Waikawa Bay, near Picton, where it was met by a marine ambulance with paramedics on board. The paramedics continued efforts to resuscitate the woman using CPR and a defibrillator, but were unsuccessful.
Coastguard Marlborough spokeswoman Nicky Jenkins said it was possible the cold water had caused a heart attack, but this was seen more often among older people.
“Everything that was possible was done. It was just one of those things. It’s a shame for someone so young.”
The directors of Dolphin Watch Ecotours could not be reached for comment yesterday. Maritime New Zealand will decide if a full investigation is required.