To Touch a Wild Dolphin is the first intimate account of dolphin life in the wild. In 1982 Rachel Smolker traveled to Monkey Mia, a remote beach on the west coast of Australia where wild dolphins regularly interact with humans. Over the next fifteen years, Smolker and a team of fellow scientists were able to explore the lives of dolphins as they had never been explored before: up close, in their natural environment, with a definite recognition ...
To Touch a Wild Dolphin is the first intimate account of dolphin life in the wild. In 1982 Rachel Smolker traveled to Monkey Mia, a remote beach on the west coast of Australia where wild dolphins regularly interact with humans. Over the next fifteen years, Smolker and a team of fellow scientists were able to explore the lives of dolphins as they had never been explored before: up close, in their natural environment, with a definite recognition of individual dolphin identities.
Smolker came to know the relationships, histories, and "personalities" of the dolphins. In To Touch a Wild Dolphin she offers delightful portraits of dolphins she became close to, ranging from the playful and incredibly silly to the slightly crazy, moody, and unpredictable. This develops into an examination of dolphin society and the diversity of characters that inhabit it. And ultimately from the intriguing, sometimes violent differences between the sexes to the nature of mother-infant relationships, to the wide repertoire of sounds used for social communication Smolker is able to reveal the inner workings of dolphin life with unprecedented clarity.
Smolker was initially attracted to dolphins for the reasons that attract so many people to them: an elusive sense of their intelligence and their social and emotional complexity, a sense that despite the fact that we live in such entirely different worlds, dolphins are somehow like us. Now, after years of fascinating, inspiring, sometimes troubling, and occasionally heartbreaking experiences with the dolphins of Monkey Mia, Smolker is able to unravel many of the mysteries surrounding these beloved animals.
To Touch a Wild Dolphin is a personal book in many ways, at the level of the dolphins and also at the level of the scientist. It is an important book, one that greatly enhances our understanding of dolphins and of ourselves, and as such it will take its place alongside such classics as Farley Mowat's Never Cry Wolf and Jane Goodall's In the Shadow of Man.
Rachel Smolker cofounded the Monkey Mia Dolphin Research Project in 1982, which continues to produce groundbreaking insights into virtually every aspect of dolphin life. She has participated in other studies of dolphins and whales all over the world, including British Columbia, the Bahamas, and New Zealand. She has also observed various species of primates in Southeast Asia, Central America, and Madagascar. She is currently a research associate at the University of Vermont and maintains an affiliation with the Museum of Zoology at the University of Michigan, where she completed her doctorate. She lives in Vermont.
In 1982, Rachel Smolker traveled to Monkey Mia, a remote spot in western Australia where she’d heard wild dolphins regularly interact with people. She had no intention of staying long; she simply wanted to see if the rumors were true. That initial trip changed Smolker’s life; it commenced a fifteen-year scientific obsession that has culminated in this fascinating scientific adventure story–the first-ever intimate account of dolphin life in the wild.
To Touch A Wild Dolphin is a seminal work that radically alters our fundamental understanding of these enigmatic creatures. Learning to identify scores of dolphins by their dorsal fin, Smolker and her team of scientists were able to conduct close and consistent studies that revealed the dolphin to be even more intelligent than we’d previously suspected. And while they were every bit as playful as we’ve known them to be, they also proved to have a dark and alarmingly violent side. But more than just a document on dolphins, this book is a touchingly personal look at the life of a scientist, at the rigors and sacrifices but also the wonders and joys of unending days in the field. Written with prose poetic and pristine, this book is nothing short of a landmark.