6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2013
In this new addition to the outstanding Scientists in the Field series, the author joins a team of scientists researching dolphins on Australia’s western coast. You’ll learn about little-known aspects of dolphin behavior. Some dolphins use sponges as tools; others capture fish in large shells or hydroplane onto the beach in pursuit of prey. Males form loose alliances in an attempt to control females.
The team knows each dolphin by sight, its history and unique personality. Meet Puck, Piccolo, Flute and baby Samu. Dolphins, considered more intelligent than chimps and gorillas, are as individual as people. The text is lively, engaging and fast-paced, the color photos jaw-dropping. This book is perfect for anyone who enjoys reading about animals, and for your own budding scientist.
Connie Goldsmith, children's book reviewer for California Kids, a Sacramento regional parenting publication
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2014
I love this book about wild dolphins with strange talents living near Monkey Mia in Australia! In fact, some of the dolphins are so smart that they have learned to come up near the beaches to take food from special people who are allowed to feed them. These dolphins are smart because of their big brains which are second only to human brains…they’re even smarter than chimpanzees! But dolphins didn’t always have such big brains. They weren’t even dolphins at one point. They have evolved into the whales we know today (dolphins are toothed whales) from weird creatures called Ambulocetus natans (means walking whale) that had legs a really long time ago! A woman named Janet and her team have been studying these dolphins for many years. When they see a new dolphin or calf (baby dolphins are called calves), they give it a name. They can tell the dolphins apart by their dorsal fins. The dolphin’s fin is photographed, labeled, and put on a “dolphin cheat sheet” that the team uses to identify and track the dolphins. Just one of the many talents these smart dolphins have is called sponging. The dolphin scoops up a sponge from the ocean floor, balances it on its beak, and then scrounges around the channel bottoms to flush fish out. Lunch! The sponge helps to protect their beaks (rostrum), and that makes the sponge a tool. It takes a really smart creature to use tools. Sponging dolphins usually have a mom that was a sponger, too. In addition to sponging, these smart dolphins do their “beach hunting”, “kerplunking” (using their tails to scare small fish out of hiding), and can even catch a three foot trevally (a type of fish) by snapping its neck on the sea bottom! While watching the dolphins, Janet and her team realized that the male dolphins swim in groups that they call ‘alliances’. These male alliances swim in close to females in order to herd them for mating. This didn’t really surprise Janet. They were surprised, though, to learn that the male dolphins also have second-order alliances and third-order alliances. This behavior was just as surprising as learning that the female dolphins used sponges as tools! While observing these alliances, Janet learned that some of the males are quite smart, some are good herders, and some are just jerks. These dolphins definitely weren’t what they always seemed!
Older kids that love dolphins, or kids who do not know much about dolphins would like this book a lot. I loved the way the author explained everything clearly. I really liked the cuteness of the illustrations and the photos. Some of the photos were very cute, and some were just pretty.
Murphy M. (7yo)
(Unpaid) Reviewer for the San Francisco Book Review
A note from Murphy's mom: My daughter has been in love with dolphins since she was 4yo and has read just about everything related to dolphins that she can get her hands on. This is one of the few books that had tons of information, beautiful photos, and was written clearly enough for a 7yo to understand, yet it wasn't 'dumbed down'. It's a great book. My only regret is that we can't afford to visit Monkey Mia ourselves. This book is the next best thing!