by Kenneth Norris
Dolphin Days is about several decades' work the author spent studying dolphins in tropical waters and also in captive environments. A large part of the book focuses on his efforts to help save dolphins from drowning in tuna nets. He went with a crew of scientists on board fishing boats so they could observe the behavior of the dolphins, what the crew did, even how the fish acted in the net, to figure out what could be done to save the dolphins. Their findings were quite surprising. I knew the dolphins wouldn't jump over the top edge of the net (floating just an inch or so below the surface, which they could easily clear) but had no idea why. I also had no idea how staggering the numbers of dolphins that died for the tuna industry were. And not only that- but the fishermen used the dolphins as markers to find the big tuna schools, because apparently the tuna shadow the dolphins, swimming along underneath them. How well did they think that would keep up if they continued to kill dolphins by the thousands? Anyway, other parts of the book deal with pure research, studying dolphin schools just off the coast of several different tropical islands, and also observing their behavior in captive pools. They made quite a few surprising discoveries.
Aside from the animal-behavior parts, much of the book also simply tells about what it is like to do field research- the difficulties involved working in foreign countries, what is involved in creating a research team, etc. It was all very interesting and told in a friendly, thoughtful manner that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I want to look for this author's earlier book on dolphin behavior, Porpoise Watchers.
Rating: 4/5 ........340 pages, 1980