Sep 28, 2011

Dolphin Days

by Kenneth Norris

This book was far more interesting and readable than the last one I tried. 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

2 comments:

Susan said...

I got involved in Greenpeace a long time ago when it was made public what the fishing nets were doing to the dolphins. I might try reading this book, though I have to caution myself because I end up sobbing when I think of the dolphins dying like this. It's even harder to know that it continues today, when it doesn't need to.

That said, you made the book sound interesting for so many reasons! For a long time I wanted to be a marine biologist, so this book might have some insights into that also. Thanks, Jeanne!

Becky (Page Turners) said...

This sounds interesting. The only similar book I have read is Virunga: THe Passion of Dian Fossey, but then, its only similar in the sense that it is non-fiction and features information about animals. Non-fiction isn't something that often captures my attention I have to admit. I glad that you ejoyed this one. Dolphins are interesting creatures. I went swimming with wild dolphins last xmas off the coast of Western Australia and it was a very special experience