I am reading The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway and I came across this:

"Dolphin" the old man said aloud. "Big dolphin".

Then, a little bit further down:

"...the bird....followed the flying fish..."

"They are widespread and the flying fish have little chance...the flying fish are too big for him"

Here, what is the "flying fish" the same thing as the "dolphin" or not? Also, in "the flying fish are too big for him", what is "him" referring to?

Thank you in advance,



In this book, "dolphin" is the large, deep-water fish, the dorado, not the mammal dolphin, or porpoise. The dolphin prey mainly on flying fish, which are also a deep-water fish (you don't find flying fish or dorado near shore). There is a big school of dolphin in the vicinity and the flying fish are in dire straits from them, the dolphin "are widespread and the flying fish have little chance" of escaping them, except by "flying" out of the water.

Birds follow the flying fish and also prey on them, so fishermen use birds to locate big fish who are preying on the flying fish. He says here that the man-o-war bird the old man was looking at doesn't have a chance with the flying fish because they "are too big for him." Hemingway was supposed to be an expert big game fisherman, and I'm certainly no expert at big game fishing, but disagree with this. Seabirds certainly can catch a flying fish, which are small fish. In the book, a few pages after this, it says that the seabirds prey on "bait fish," not the flying fish. But "bait fish" are near-shore fish, and are not found in deep water when dorado, and flying fish, swim. (What would the seabirds be doing following flying fish in deep water, if they were not preying on them?)