To Touch a Wild Dolphin: A Journey of Discovery with the Sea's Most Intelligent Creatures

To Touch a Wild Dolphin: A Journey of Discovery with the Sea's Most Intelligent Creatures

by Rachel Smolker


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385491778
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/09/2002
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 394,026
Product dimensions: 5.14(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.64(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

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.

From the Hardcover edition.

Read an Excerpt

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.

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To Touch a Wild Dolphin: A Journey of Discovery with the Sea's Most Intelligent Creatures 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
elliepotten on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sometimes a book comes along that manages to balance a range of genres with such perfection that you close it having smiled and cried, experienced new places and lifestyles, and learned more than you realise, all without ever having left the comfort of your sofa. To Touch a Wild Dolphin definitely fulfills that description.Monkey Mia, in Shark Bay, on the West Australia coast, is known for its friendly wild dolphins, who come right into the shallow waters and interact readily with humans. These days they are a huge tourist draw, but when Rachel Smolker first discovered them in the early eighties, hardly anyone knew about them. For Smolker, a marine biologist, they provided the perfect opportunity to study dolphins in the wild, learning to identify individuals, recording dolphin communication, and observing all the different elements of dolphin life, from courtship to hunting. For fifteen years she and her fluid team of colleagues and assistants spent huge swathes of time at Monkey Mia getting to know the dolphins, sharing their joys and sorrows, and reaching ground-breaking conclusions about their previously mysterious existence.Reading this book and sharing the dolphins' lives felt like a real privilege, and it was utterly absorbing from start to finish. Smolker is a wonderful writer, moving effortlessly from lyrical descriptions of the beautiful Shark Bay area, through profound thoughts on the links between humans and dolphins, to accessible and concise information on all areas of dolphin society, without ever losing the thread of her narrative. She superbly captures the nuances of each of the key dolphins' personalities so that the reader grows as close to them as they would to any character in a novel, and experiences their happiness and their losses all the more deeply. She describes life in the rough camp by the beach, and offers anecdotes about interaction with the dolphins that range from the sublime to the horrific. And alongside all of this, Smolker distils everything she and her team learned from their time with the dolphins of Monkey Mia, from foraging techniques and courtship rituals to communication and male bonding, offering a complete and reverential picture of the wonder and complexity of the dolphins' lives.This is a tour de force of nature writing, bringing together elements of science, natural history, ecology, autobiography and travel writing. It will make you laugh and cringe and cry, and leave you with a new respect both for dolphins and for the people who have dedicated their lives to studying them and working to develop our understanding of these amazing creatures. Read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Should I buy this book? I added it to my wishlist and I think that I might get it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very interesting book!!! After reading the sample, you would want the book too.
Lesley Randall More than 1 year ago
I have not read it but it seems like a very good book. Dont you think?