by Carol Howard
Last night I finished this book. It's about an amazing project- two "teenage" male dolphins were caught from the wild near Florida, taken to California for some research- mostly on echolocation- and then released back into their home waters. Then for a year, follow-up studies were conducted to see how the dolphins readjusted to life in the wild, and for many years thereafter they were sighted on occasion. The two years the dolphins spent in captivity were full ones, and the author makes it clear how intense working with dolphins can be. She's honest about the dirty aspects of the job- handling raw fish all day, cleaning algae out of the pools- and the frustrations. Dolphin Chronicles describes all stages of the project- how the capture and transport to California was carried out, how the dolphins adjusted to life in captivity, how they were trained and their responses to humans, how the echolocation studies were done, some trials when one of the dolphins became ill, the difficulties involved in their release, the follow-up efforts, and conclusions summarizing what they learned about dolphins. Along the way there's lots of discussion about dolphin communication, and looking at how -via what we understand of their senses- they probably perceive things. While reading about the work with the dolphins was very interesting, the few final chapters about their behavior in the wild and their physiology and mental capacities really grabbed my attention. Did you know that dolphins don't dream? The two hemispheres of a dolphin's brain are so separate they each get their own blood supply- and when he rests, only half his brain goes to sleep at a time. They can't breathe without being conscious, so they don't have unconscious sleep like us. I've only read one or two books about dolphins before, so this one was full of new info for me about these fascinating animals.
I almost forgot to mention this is the second book I've read for the 2009 TBR Challenge. (The first one was Adventures of a Zoologist).
Rating: 3/5 ........ 304 pages