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Author Biography: Twig C. George was inspired to write Swimming with Sharks after she spent time studying and swimming with sharks in the Bahamas. She is also the author of A Dolphin Named Bob, illustrated by Christine Herman Merrill. She lives in Maryland.
A very sick dolphin is nursed back to health by the staff of a marine aquarium and years later has a baby that becomes the star of the show there.
Even before Bob was born, no one expected him to live, much less flourish. They might have guessed, though, that he would survive. His mother, Aster, was a dolphin with a remarkable will to live and a story of her own.
When Aster was about ten months old, she was washed ashore by a tremendous storm. For two days she lay stranded on the sand dune where the storm's powerful waves had left her. She could hear the sea, but she could only arch her body and inch her way toward the sound of the water. After many, many tries she grew too weak to move.By the time a group of bird-watchers discovered her, she was almost dead. Her dovegray skin was sunburned and coated with sand. Her breathing sounded like the wind blowing through the dry sea oats that surrounded her. It was the sound that attracted the attention of the leader of the birdwatching group, Mrs. Lee, who, luckily, was also a charter member of the Maryland State Aquarium's Marine Mammal Animal Rescue Program, Today, however, she was on the lookout for piping plover nests. She carefully climbed the dune, so as not to disturb the rare birds that she hoped to discover or the fragile dune grasses, and gasped.
"Over here," she called to her group. "Step carefully! Look, it's a very young dolphin, and it's still alive!" The kind woman shooed away the flies swarming around the dolphin's still form.
Digging a hole for its flippers, she rolled the dolphin on its side and examined its belly and tall flukes. "It's a female," she observed. "Lucy, Bill get some towels from the car," she ordered. "Soak them inthe surf. The cool water will soothe her skin. It must hurt terribly." Aster's eyes roamed wildly over the group as they surrounded her. Then a cool, wet towel blocked them from sight.
The towels calmed Aster. She closed her eyes. Weak and dehydrated, she weighed less than the eighty to ninety pounds she had weighed at birth over six months ago.
Mrs. Lee, relying on her training from the Aquarium, quickly rolled the dolphin into the center of two large towels.
"Pick up the edges of the towels," directed Mrs. Lee. "We'll use them like a stretcher to carry her to the car. Leave a gap between the towels for her flippers. I'm going take her to the Aquarium. They may be able to help her."
Aster was too tired to struggle. Together, Lucy, Bill, and the other bird-watchers gently lifted the five-foot dolphin and carried her over the dunes to the parking area nearby They placed Aster in the back of Mrs. Lee's huge, old station wagon and shut the rear door.
"Lucy," Mrs. Lee called as she slid into the driver's seat, "call the Aquarium and tell them I'm coming!"
'All right," Lucy shouted over the noise of the car's revving engine. "I'll call as soon as find a phone!"
Then Mrs. Lee eased the car down the road and around the corner. Bird-watching was over for the day.
Three hours later Mrs. Lee arrived at the Maryland State Aquarium and was met by a group from the animal rescue program. Aster was taken from the car and placed in the capable hands of Mike, the head trainer and curator of the Aquarium's marine mammal program.
Mike was fit from his hours in the water with dolphins. He easily carried Aster to the quarantine pool: a quiet, dark pool completely separate from the rest of the pools in the Aquarium. It was used only for sick and injured marine animals. Aster's skin was full of sores, and the staff would soon find out that her body was plagued with a serious illness. Motionless, she slid into the pool. The buoyant salt water held her limp body at an angle so that her blowhole rested above the surface. This allowed her to breathe with almost no effort. Aster's body was perfectly designed for the life of a marine mammal, an animal that breathes air but lives in the sea.
Though tall and strong, Mike was a gentle man with dark-brown eyes, a wide smile, and a patient, quiet way about him. Mike knew Aster was very ill and immediately called Dr. Lauren Manekin, the Aquarium veterinarian. Lauren, as she insisted on being called, was an energetic young woman with bright eyes and fine, curly hair that bounced when she moved or spoke. She had worked with many beached marine mammals, which are called "strandlings" because they are stranded on land, and was an expert on their particular health problems. Besides tending several Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, two Pacific bottlenose dolphins, and many seals, Lauren also cared for the Aquarium's collection of more than 5,000 fish, reptiles, amphibians, and birds. It was a demanding job and she loved it.
Mike watched Lauren examine the young calf and take blood samples.
"Will she make it?" he asked.
"I won't know until I get these blood samples to the laboratory," she answered. "You're right. She is a female. A young Atlantic bottlenose dolphin and she's not even a year old. Try and get her to take some freshwater. I'll be back as soon as I can."
Lauren hurried off to the lab. Mike got out a bottle with a long tube and filled it with water. Aster's eyes followed him as he moved around the cement deck that circled her pool.
He slid waist deep into the water and held Aster firmly, wrapping his arm behind her flipper. She was frightened. Her breathing was fast, and her eyes searched for a way out. There was none. If she bad been stronger, even Mike would have needed the help of several other trainers to hold her.A Dolphin Named Bob. Copyright © by Twig George. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Posted October 22, 2012
This is a nice story, well written and with lots of information. My fourth grader is not a big reader but loves animals, sea life etc., and it kept her attention and interest. Read along with "Swimming with Sharks" by the same author.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 17, 2001
I really enjoyed this book because it taught my alot of information I didn't know about how much fun Dolphins are.In the book a Dolphin named Aster, who is a pregnant Dolphin, washes ashore. The search and rescue team works hard to save this sick dolphin. She finally gives birth to a young Dolphin named Bob, but the two are still sickly and do not respond well to their trainers.Mike,one of the trainers, tries to cheer up Aster and Bob by putting on shows.It worked until a killer dolphin came into the tank. Mike has to lock up Aster to protect him from diasaster. Read to find out what happens next.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.