BOOK III. (DUODECIMO), CHAPTER 1. (HUZZA PORPOISE).—This is the common porpoise found almost all over the globe. The name is of my own bestowal; for there are more than one sort of porpoises, and something must be done to distinguish them. I call him thus, because he always swims in hilarious shoals, which upon the broad sea keep tossing themselves to heaven like caps in a Fourth-of-July crowd. Their appearance is generally hailed with delight by the mariner. Full of fine spirits, they invariably come from the breezy billows to windward. They are the lads that always live before the wind. They are accounted a lucky omen. If you yourself can withstand three cheers at beholding these vivacious fish, then heaven help ye; the spirit of godly gamesomeness is not in ye. A well-fed, plump Huzza Porpoise will yield you one good gallon of good oil. But the fine and delicate fluid extracted from his jaws is exceedingly valuable. It is in request among jewellers and watchmakers. Sailors put it on their hones. Porpoise meat is good eating, you know. It may never have occurred to you that a porpoise spouts. Indeed, his spout is so small that it is not very readily discernible. But the next time you have a chance, watch him; and you will then see the great Sperm whale himself in miniature.
The dolphin, known to sailors round the globe as a good omen, and even further as the reincarnated soul of a sailor lost at sea, is interpreted in our game as an extra boost in one way or another, depending on your mood. Melville himself says that dolphin makes for good eating, and so the option is open to slaughter the dolphin for currency. However, the ‘luck’ of the dolphin can be exploited as well, by preventing the next sailor death you will inexorably face.
A remarkable story of a true ‘dolphin friend’ comes from the dangerous Cook Straits between the north and south islands of New Zealand, around the turn of the 20th century. A Risso’s dolphin nicknamed ‘Pelorus Jack’ piloted boats through these straits for a reported period of 24 years. Jack was fired upon by some Scaramouch in a ship called the SS Penguin in 1904—five years later the SS Penguin was wrecked in those straits, since Jack refused to guide them safely through.