Pelorus Jack was a Risso’s dolphin that was famous for meeting and escorting ships through a stretch of water in Cook Strait, New Zealand, for 24 years between 1888 and 1912.
Photographic records indicate that Pelorus Jack was a Risso’s dolphin, a species that’s incredibly hard to find in New Zealand. He was often described as white or albino.
Pelorus Jack was first seen around 1888 when it appeared in front of the schooner Brindle when the ship approached French Pass, a channel located between D’Urville Island and the South Island. When the members of the crew saw the dolphin bobbing up and down in front of the ship, they wanted to kill him, but the captain’s wife talked them out of it. To their amazement, the dolphin then proceeded to guide the ship through the narrow channel. And for years thereafter, he safely guided almost every ship that came by. With rocks and strong currents, the area is dangerous to ships, but no shipwrecks occurred when Jack was present.
Jack was last seen in April 1912. There were various rumors connected to his disappearance, including fears that foreign whalers might have harpooned him. However, research suggests that Pelorus Jack was an old anima, so it is likely that he died of natural causes.