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If the little Scottish terrier whose monument still stands in Edinburgh is not the most selfless animal who ever lived, a dolphin named Pelorus Jack might well be. For many years, this dolphin guided ships through French Pass, a channel through the D’Urville Islands off New Zealand. This dangerous channel is so full of rocks, and has such extremely strong currents, that it has been the site of literally hundreds of shipwrecks. But none occurred when Pelorus jack was at work. There is no telling how many lives he saved.
He was first seen by human beings when he appeared in front of a schooner from Boston named "Brindle,‘’ just as the ship was approaching French Pass. When the members of the crew saw the dolphin bobbing up and down in front of the ship, they wanted to kill him – but, fortunately, the captain’s wife was able to talk 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. So regular and reliable was the dolphin that when ships reached the entrance to French Pass they would look for him, and if he was not visible, they would wait for him to appear to guide them safely through the treacherous rocks and currents.
On one sad occasion, a drunken passenger aboard a ship named the “Penguin” took out a gun and shot at Pelorus Jack. The crew was furious, and when they saw Jack swim away with blood pouring from his body they came very close to lynching the passenger. The ’’Penguin’’ had to negotiate the channel without Pelorus Jack’s help, as did the other ships that came through in the next few weeks. But one day the dolphin reappeared, apparently recovered from his wound. He had evidently forgiven the human species, because he once again proceeded to guide ship after ship through the channel. When the ’’Penguin’’ showed up again, however, the dolphin immediately disappeared. For a number of years thereafter, Pelorus Jack continued to escort ships through French Pass – but never the ‘’Penguin,’’ and the crew of that ship never saw the dolphin again. Ironically, the ’’Penguin’’ was later wrecked, and a large number of passengers and crew were drowned, as it sailed – unguided – through French Pass.
Story is from “Diet for A New America”, an inspiring book by author John Robbins, promoting a cruelty free way of life for the physical, environmental, social and spiritual well being of Mother Earth and all of her children. Visit www.earthsave.org for more on the work of John Robbins