Cetacean Society International

Whales Alive! - Vol. XI No. 1 - January 2002

Book Review

By Jessica Dickens, CSI Board

Bottlenose Dolphins, by Paul Thompson and Ben Wilson. Voyageur Press, 72 pp.

Bottlenose Dolphins is a great illustration that there is always more to learn about these popular cetaceans. The colorful book begins with a description of a group of bottlenose dolphins' close encounter with a ship and its crew members. This image sets the tone of the book, because it shows the reader how closely humans and dolphins actually coexist. Dolphins are not just out there somewhere swimming in the far off ocean. They swim in "our" bays, in "our" beaches and they ride the bows of our boats.

Although this book appears to be a coffee table book full of fun pictures with dolphins jumping out of the water, this is not the case. Yes, there are wonderful photographs of dolphins in different marine environments throughout the book, but with an easy to read writing style, the reader learns about the latest discoveries and research techniques that help scientists learn more about their ecology and social structures.

One interesting bit of information covered in the book is the depiction of the diversity within the Bottlenose dolphin population due in part to various environmental factors. These factors actually influence the shape, size and color of some types of Bottlenose dolphins. These factors can range from water depth to water temperature. For instance, found off the coast of South Africa are two distinct forms of Bottlenose dolphins. One type of Bottlenose dolphin lives in shallow coastal waters while another form lives further off shore in deeper colder waters. They differ in size with the coastal dolphin being smaller than the dolphins that live further off shore. Researchers believe that the offshore dolphins' larger size increases the dolphins' ability to dive and look for food in the deeper waters. And since the coastal dolphins do not have to search in deep waters for food their bodies are much smaller than their deep water counterparts. This is just one example of the many interesting pieces of information that fill the pages of this book. Also covered is the Bottlenose dolphin's search for food, issues of life and death and of course conservation. And I always appreciate a book that challenges the reader to get involved and this book does exactly that. It shows the reader that we can take our admiration and respect for cetaceans and actively do our part to further work for their conservation and protection.

I recommend this easy to read book to anyone interested in learning about Bottlenose dolphins or anyone interested in learning about a facet of the complex and diverse world of the sea.

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