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Interislander Logo - the story of Pelorus Jack, our guiding dolphin

The dolphin that appears on the Interislander logo is inspired by the dolphin Tuhirangi, later called Pelorus Jack by European settlers. For more than 20 years Pelorus Jack accompanied ships across Cook Strait.

According to Maori history, Tuhirangi guided Kupe, a Maori voyager, across the ocean to Aotearoa (New Zealand). Tuhirangi then escorted Kupe and his party safely through the outer Marlborough Sounds to the West Coast of the South Island.

Pelorus Jack was an icon to Cook Strait travellers from 1888 through to around 1912. At all hours of the day and night, Jack would respond to the call of ships’ engines and soon be riding the bow waves. One regular traveller recalled: “When he was late for the steamer that we were boarding, we would hear the passengers say, ‘Here he comes!’ and I would look up and see Pelorus Jack approaching at a racing speed with great leaps and bounds out of the water, often ending close by with a mighty splash. This delighted the passengers.”

In 1904 someone fired a shot at Jack from a steamship (reputedly from the Penguin). So great was the public outrage that the Governor General signed an Order in Council protecting the Risso’s dolphin (Jack’s species). Postcards soon declared Pelorus Jack ‘The only fish in the world protected by an Act of Parliament.’ Following the shooting, or so the story goes, Jack steered clear of the Penguin, which mysteriously sank in 1909 with the loss of 75 lives.

Another mystery surrounding the dolphin is its sex. Some contend that Interislander’s best friend was not a Jack but a Jill. Pelorus Jack was last sighted in 1912; his or her fate is unknown.

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