Jason Cressey


Dolphins, whales and porpoise collectively known as cetaceans, cause excitement wherever they are seen. This excitement may stem from the impressive size of the large whales, or the playful exertions of the acrobatic dolphins, not to mention the many stories of cetaceans coming to the aid of shipwrecked sailors and stranded fishermen. Whatever the origin of their appeal, cetaceans have featured prominently in mythology from ancient times. It comes as little surprise, then, that Oceania, so dominated by the waters of the vast Pacific, is rich in cetacean legends and mythology. From Australia and New Zealand to Hawai'i and Easter Island, dolphins and whales frequently appear in Pacific Island folklore. The majority of discussions about cetaceans in the past, however, have concentrated on the dolphin's role in Greek mythology, with scant regard for the beliefs of the sea-faring peoples of the Pacific.