Myth and Folklore Wiki

Porpoise Sal is a maritime folkloric entity found in legends of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The legend is featured in the books Mysterious Tales of Coastal North Carolina by Sherman Carmichael in 2018 and The Flaming Ship of Ocracoke: & Other Tales of the Outer Banks by Charles Harry Whedbee in 1971. The legend is also recorded on

Historical Background[]


Map of Diamond City

Cape Lookout and the Shackleford Banks in North Carolina were the sites of the largest shore-based whaling stations south of New York [1].  These locations were ideal for whaling because they were close to the Gulf Stream, which was near the regular migration paths of North Atlantic right and sperm whales [2][3].  Between Cape Lookout and Shackleford Banks was the settlement of Diamond City, the largest town in the area with a permanent population of around 500 [4].  The entire area was decimated by a hurricane in 1899, which led to the Shackleford Banks being abandoned [5].  The story of Porpoise Sal is part of local folklore to explain events that preluded the hurricane.

The Legend[]

In the 19th century, a mysterious woman washed ashore on Diamond City, North Carolina (now part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore). Whales fueled the economy of 19th Century America, and Diamond City was the most prominent whaling community in North Carolina. During this time, whales were hunted to the brink of extinction. When fishermen discovered the strange woman, the only words she spoke was "The killing must stop." After she had been there for several weeks, people began to notice that every morning she could be seen swimming out in the waters. But she was never swimming alone. As soon as she waded into the water, a pod of dolphins would appear seemingly from nowhere and surround her. As spring whaling season approached, the woman became more troubled and kept repeating, "the killing must stop." Eventually, people began to assume she was talking about the whales. One day the woman told a fisherman, "You were warned" and then disappeared. Soon, a hurricane decimated the small town, leaving it completely destroyed. Today, nothing remains of Diamond City. In fact, there are no bridges or roads from the mainland to the site where Diamond City was located.