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The Voice of the Dolphins Paperback – May 4, 2011
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An award-winning filmmaker describes three decades of work with dolphins. In this compelling memoir, Jones, best known for his documentaries on marine life, recounts his experience filming and interacting with dolphins. His work initially began in 1978 after he learned about cruel fishing techniques that rely on dolphins to catch tuna, often leading to mass deaths of dolphins. Jones decided to produce a film documenting dolphins underwater in their natural habitat, a feat considered impossible by marine experts, including the esteemed Jacques Cousteau. Fortunately, with the help of treasure diver Bob Marx, Jones learned of an unusually friendly school of dolphins living in the Bahamas. With a small crew, Jones worked with the school to create his first film Dolphin, and thus began his lifelong desire to document and protect these intelligent aquatic animals. Over the next three decades, Jones made several films for PBS, National Geographic, Discovery and more; co-founded Bluevoice.org to protect dolphins and whales; and created film footage that helped spur a public outcry against Starkist Tuna's fishing techniques (reformed practices and the Starkist "dolphin safe" label were born as a result). Jones writes in an engaging, conversational tone and readers will find the segments describing human interaction with wild dolphins fascinating as they attempt to communicate through an underwater piano and a dolphin call generator. While the book occasionally veers toward sappy descriptions of humans connecting and cavorting with dolphins, accounts of the marine mammals' sheer intelligence are astounding. In more personal sections, Jones juxtaposes his film work with his battle with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer linked to the same toxic chemicals that affect dolphins. Indeed, a central theme of the book is that the animals face an uncertain future, threatened by destructive fishing techniques and a rising number of ocean contaminants. A moving, effective tale that urges readers to place greater importance on environmental conservation. --Kirkus Reviews, June 7, 2011
About the Author
Hardy Jones has been a pioneer in filming dolphins, killer whales and sperm whales underwater in the wild. He began the struggle to end the slaughter of dolphins in Japan in 1979. Jones graduated from New Canaan Country School, Choate School and Tulane University. He was awarded a CBS News Foundation Fellowship to Columbia University where he studied international law. At CBS News, Jones worked as a researcher, writer and in the election and space units. He went on to become news director and on-air anchor at the CBS affiliate in Anchorage, Alaska. Prior to working at CBS Jones served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru. In 2003 Hardy Jones was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer connected to chemical pollutants. He has fought to alert the public and governments to the danger of toxins in the marine food chain and their linkage to disease in dolphins and human beings. He was won numerous awards for his films, including Lifetime Achievement Award from International Wildlife Film Festival, A Genesis Award from the Humane Society of the United States, Wildlife Filmmaker of the Year from Wildscreen and an Explorer’s Club Award as well as many others. Currently Jones is executive director of BlueVoice.org. He is on the Ocean Council of Oceana. He and his wife Deborah Cutting live on Anastasia Island just off Saint Augustine, Florida. They share their lives with a Chow named Chou Chou, and two cats - Buddy and Gracie. From a nearby beach they frequently see dolphins and, during the winter, right whales.
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Like all love stories, Jones' story with the dolphins--Atlantic spotted dolphins in the Bahamas, spinner dolphins in Hawaii and Tahiti, orca in the Pacific Northwest and Norway, to name a few--is full of beauty, discovery, and wonder. The book resonates with these passages, ebginning with Jones' description of swimming for the first time in the wild with dolphins who did not flee him... a feat even Jacques Cousteau considered impossible in 1978.
But like many love stories, Jones' with the dolphins is also full of pain and sickness. In 1979 he went to Japan to film the slaughter of dolphins. This was the first of many trips to talk, listen, and argue with the fishermen in defense of the dolphins--all done decades before "The Cove" filmmakers got there. Jones writes of being haunted by the two irreconcilable dolphin worlds he'd come to know: "Again and again, especially in early morning hours when I couldn't sleep, my thoughts returned to the brutal images of dolphins piled on the beaches of Iki... I placed an aerial photograph of the dead dolphins littering the beach at Iki on my desk. Next to that photograph, stood a framed print of two dolphins, looking at me as we swam side by side in the turquoise waters of the little Bahama Bank."
From stories of the brutal dolphin entertainment industry, Jones was eventually drawn into other problems, including the monumental tragedy of six million dolphins drowned in tuna nets. His film "If Dolphins Could Talk" helped tip that story in a new direction--through the launch of the first dolphin-safe tuna labels.
In 2003, Jones was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare blood cancer. A few weeks later, he was offered an exciting film project with the PBS series Nature. The film that would eventually come to define him was called "The Dolphin Defender." In the course of researching that film and later films, Jones discovered that his rare disease was not rare in dolphins. He found that places where dolphins were suffering are also myeloma hot-spots for people. But I'll leave the rest of that amazing chapter of Jones' story for you to read.
"The Voice of the Dolphins" is vivid, vibrant, impassioned, generous, inspirational, and packed with one good sea yarn after another. Best of all it's loaded with dolphins--old friends with names and personalities and great stories that only Hardy Jones can tell on their behalf.
--Julia Whitty, author: Deep Blue Home: An Intimate Ecology of Our Wild Ocean,The Fragile Edge: Diving and Other Adventures in the South Pacific,A Tortoise for the Queen of Tonga: Stories
Unlike some books in the ocean/dolphin genre, The Voice of the Dolphins has a more universal message - it is the story of a man whose life so parallels his passion that he seems to exist in the matrix between the modern world and the ocean realm. In some ways it reminds me of the tales that permeate Northwest Native American culture, tales of humans and the ocean that go back to a time when people both understood the need to live in harmony with the ocean dwellers, and created stories to explain our connection to them.
As you read the story of Jones' life so far, you will come to admire him for his humble style as well as his quiet courage as he faces both the limits of his energy and the challenges of the tasks he set before himself.
As he shares the dolphins world, he also shares the ways that we are increasingly making the ocean an unhealthy place for all life, yet Jones does it as part of the story so it is not another doom and gloom book.
When you put it down, you will feel like anything is possible, we just have to do it.