Probably you don’t know this story. Here it is, very briefly (for more details, there’s always the Wikipedia link).
Pelorus Jack was a dolphin who lived at the beginning of the last century, in New Zealand (well, on the waters surrounding some parts of New Zealand, actually). He became famous because he escorted ships through the Cook Strait. According to Wikipedia, he did this for 24 years. He was so famous that some ships wouldn’t even begin to pass through the strait until Pelorus Jack appeared, surfacing from the waters at the entrance of the rock corridor.
There are also records of someone shooting the dolphin (for unknown reasons), a situation which led to New Zealand passing a law to protect him. He survived the shot and then disappeared for good around 1912.
Needless to say, I find this story fascinating. But, again, not for the mainstream reasons.
I don’t see Pelorus Jack as this inferior being who, by helping humans, overcame his condition and won a place in our history. Many people, even those appreciating him, are seeing his story from this angle: we are the superior race, because we can make ships, but look, a fishy-fishy, which we generously spared from death, is now playing around our vessel and is escorting us through dangerous waters. What a nice example of extraordinary achievements, what a proof that dolphins are capable of reason, and, who knows, maybe even empathy.
How Pelorus Jack Sees The World
So, I think at Pelorus Jack from the opposite angle. I try to understand how he saw us and what made him pursue his guiding activities for decades. I try not to look at things from the perspective of “who’s more evolved”. Because I’m 100% sure that I would be biased towards the dolphin.
What follows is an imaginary interior dialogue of Pelorus Jack, on a normal day of his life.
“What a great day today. Just like all the days of my life. I am so happy and joyful for being able to talk to my friends and sing their songs.
Oh, look, another group of unablers. I know, I know, “unabler” is not a word, it’s just how I call those animals outside, because they are unable to dive deep, like us, and they are living that sad, short and dangerous life outside the mother water. It must be so exhausting for them. Oh, and those clumsy things they make float, and then they’re crawling on top to, sliding with them through the rocks.
I think they did something bad, and they were punished by their tribe to live on that small, clumsy shell. I don’t see any other reason for which anyone would like to live on that tiny, dangerous thing. I mean, they know they can’t survive on the waters, like us, and they are still climbing on those things that they can’t even stop from crashing and sinking. I’ve seen countless hitting the rocks because they’re, you know, just unable.
And, bleah, the smell. Their bodies, when they start decomposing, smell so horrendously that none of us can swim through those places for months. And the fabrics with which they cover their limbs, oh, those are the worst. And all the garbage coming from the shell, staying on the bottom of our sea forever.
But at least the ones that are passing around my playground can understand some basic training techniques. If you swim the right away around their shell, they can be trained to follow you. I told that to my friends, and those who believed me, because many didn’t, told me I’m losing my time. Nothin’ good will come out of this.
Well, maybe. But at least I’ll keep the waters clean. I really, really can’t stand the smell and if I see more garbage from their shell, I will throw up 3 times a day.
Ok, so up we go. C’mon unablers, here I am. Just look at me. I’m swimming around your shell. Just make eye contact. Thaaaaat’s it. Good boy.
Now, we’re playing that game again. We call it “catch me if you can” down here, but I have no idea if you name it the same. Whatever, doesn’t matter the name, what matters is that you finally understood what you have to do.
Just follow me. Ok, that’s it. Slowly with that woody thing, you know you don’t know how to handle it. Just follow me, you clumsy unabler. Thaaat’s it. We’re almost done. Eyes on the dolphin, eyes on the dolphin. That’s me, the dolphin. Aaaaaalmost ready. Just a few more flips, aaaaand, ta-daaa.
There you go. You’re off the hooks. You won’t hit anything from here, at least not in my waters. Just keep going. That’s it.
Phew, this shell was a really big one. They kinda making them bigger and bigger, at least during the last years. Probably more of them are doing bad things, and they need bigger prisons for them. Who knows?
Anyway, let’s get back to singing the songs with my friends. I’ll pass by this playground again tomorrow. Hopefully, no unabler will hit the rocks until then, ’cause I really hate the smell.”