The Roaring Forties is one of the most dangerous areas in all of the oceans as it contains strong winds that create a tunnel between a gap. There are strong currents as well as coming from the north and south that meet in the middle, creating risks for rip tides and turbulence. The Roaring Forties are found among Cook Strait which is between the northern and southern islands of New Zealand.
The treacherous waters here have caused many shipwrecks along this area with many casualties. Pelorus Jack assisted with these unfortunate events in 1888, however. He was a Risso’s dolphin that has safely guided many ships through the strait to avoid danger.
It is true that Pelorus Jack was a dolphin that was affectionately named this after riding along with ships through the strait. The legend of the dolphin specifically guiding the ship, however, remains just that, a legend and a rumor. This includes the part that states that captains would wait for Pelorus Jack before traveling through the strait.
Eye witness accounts have never stated that Pelorus Jack actually guided the ships. They instead state that he played as a dolphin around the waves from the ship. A 1906 explorer stated about the show that Pelorus Jack gave his boat when he was playing. The same witness and one in 1911 stated that he only followed the ship for a short distance rather than the whole way as well, as he would leave when the ship stopped.
It is not for certain when people first began to see this dolphin. The most popular belief is that he showed up near the Brindle. The crew initially tried to harm the dolphin, but it was able to avoid harm by the captain’s wife’s efforts. Due to her efforts, Pelorus Jack is said to have guided the ship to safety in the legend.
The dolphin seemed to stay around ships from 1888 to 1912, playing alongside ships for short distances. He was very consistent in doing this, more than other dolphins. This could have been due to loneliness, boredom or any matter as there have only been 12 Risso’s dolphins in the strait. Some even believe that Pelorus Jack was the only survivor of his school.
Pelorus Jack, according to the legend, would never go around the SS Penguin, however, which actually wrecked in the strait. In 1904, a sailor became drunk and shot at the dolphin. He became injured and never played near the ship again until it sunk in 1909.
It is true that this ship did wreck in 1909. There were never eye-witness accounts about Pelorus Jack from this story, however. The dolphin was injured in 1904, however, as he disappeared for a short time. Most individuals are upon agreement that some incident with the Penguin had something to do with Pelorus Jack’s injury.
Pelorus Jack soon became somewhat of an attraction for individuals around the world to come to see. There have even been tourist goods with pictures of him on it such as postcards. Pelorus Jack never returned after April of 1912, however. Most believe he passed due to natural causes, but his legend remains among New Zealand and the world.