Pelorus Jack

Dolphin Day

Apr 14

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

Dolphin Day
Opo
Dolphin Day
Pelorus Jack
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Today's Musings, History & Folklore

"A famous fish there used to be, called Pelorus Jack He'd always swim far out to sea, when a ship came back About her bow he'd dive and play, And keep with her right to the bay And all on board would cheer and say:- 'There's Pelorus Jack'"

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, between 1888 and 1912. Pelorus Jack was usually spotted in Admiralty Bay between Cape Francis and Collinet Point, near French Pass, a notoriously dangerous channel used by ships traveling between Wellington and Nelson. Following a shooting incident, a law was enacted to protect Pelorus Jack. He became protected by Order in Council under the Sea Fisheries Act on 26 September 1904. Pelorus Jack remained protected by that law until his disappearance in April of 1912. It is believed that he was the first individual sea creature protected by law in any country!🐬

Pelorus Jack

Pelorus Jack is a much beloved dance named after a Risso's dolphin that was famous for meeting and escorting ships through a stretch of water in Cook Strait, New Zealand, between 1888 and 1912.

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Pelorus Jack was usually spotted in Admiralty Bay between Cape Francis and Collinet Point, near French Pass, a notoriously dangerous channel used by ships travelling between Wellington and Nelson.

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Pelorus Jack would guide the ships by swimming alongside a water craft for 20 minutes at a time. If the crew could not see Jack at first, they would often wait for him to appear.

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Despite his name, he did not live in nearby Pelorus Sound.  Pelorus Jack was first seen around 1888 when he appeared in front of the schooner Brindle when the ship approached French Pass.  When the members of the crew saw the dolphin bobbing up and down in front of the ship, they at first wanted to kill him but were dissuaded by the captain’s wife. 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.  Although the area has dangerous rocks and strong currents, no shipwrecks occurred when Jack was present.

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Following a shooting incident, a law was proposed to protect Pelorus Jack.  Pelorus Jack became the first individual sea creature protected by law in any country.

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For a special video of the dance with introductory commentary by devisor Barry Skelton and more history of Pelorus Jack himself, click the 1909 photo of Jack!  Also included, actual footage of Jack escorting a ship!

Pelorus Jack
Pelorus Jack

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The majority of dance descriptions referenced on this site have been taken from the

 

Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary or the

Scottish Country Dancing Database 

 

Snapshots of dance descriptions are provided as an overview only.  As updates may have occurred, please click the dance description to be forwarded to a printable dance description or one of the official reference sources.

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