Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Dolphin Mysteries

Dolphin Mysteries: Unlocking the Secrets of Communication

Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 272
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Dolphin Mysteries
    Book Description:

    Dolphins have fascinated humans for millennia, giving rise to an abundance of stories and myths about them, yet the actual details of their lives in the sea have remained elusive. In this enthralling book, Kathleen M. Dudzinski and Toni Frohoff take us into the dolphins' aquatic world to witness firsthand how they live their lives, communicate, and interact with one another and with other species, including people.

    Kathleen M. Dudzinski and Toni Frohoff are scientists who have collectively dedicated more than 40 years to studying dolphins beneath the ocean's surface, frequently through a close-up underwater lens. Drawing on their own experiences and on up-to-the-minute research, the authors show that dolphins are decidedly not just members of a group but distinct individuals, able to communicate with one another and with humans. Dudzinski and Frohoff introduce a new way of looking at, and listening to, the vocabulary of dolphins in the sea, and they even provide an introductory "dolphin dictionary," listing complex social signals that dolphins use to share information among themselves and with people. Unveiling an intimate and scientifically accurate portrait of dolphins, this book will appeal to everyone who has wanted a closer glimpse into the hearts and minds of these amazing creatures.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15038-4
    Subjects: Aquatic Sciences, Zoology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Marc Bekoff

    Dolphin Mysteriesis a wonderful and very welcome book about a “poster child” of sentient beings. But it’s really many books in one. Its scope is truly enormous, and Kathleen Dudzinski and Toni Frohoff are to be congratulated for getting so much important and timely information between two reasonably spaced covers. What sets this book apart from many others that deal with dolphins and their relatives is that not only is it written by two experts—two passionate women who have devoted much of their waking (and perhaps their dream) lives to dolphins—but it presents a diverse array of...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xxvi)
    Kathleen M. Dudzinski and Toni Frohoff
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    Dolphins entice us clumsy land-based humans with their aquatic grace, agility, beauty, and mystery, as well as what some have described as an unearthly intelligence and communication system. Over the years, a belief has been fostered that dolphins are directly comparable to people, with hints that they might have humanlike personalities. When we encounter them by boat or from land, we perceive them from our respectively different worlds. When we meet them in their world, by immersing ourselves in their aquatic habitat, two very different species connect on a common playing field.

    We continue to learn, be inspired by, and...

  7. Chapter 1 A Dolphin’s Life
    (pp. 11-35)

    Common dolphins can travel in schools of thousands, even tens of thousands.¹ These ocean mammals, true to their name, are found throughout the world’s oceans, and people often see them in vast numbers. Yet our view from above the water’s surface does not allow us to see or hear them in the three-dimensional ocean world in which they live.

    When we see dolphins, it is typically like this: from a boat or from land, dolphins appear for a second or two, and the rest is left to our imagination. This can be exasperating for researchers, especially because dolphins exhibit what...

  8. Chapter 2 The Expressive Dolphin
    (pp. 36-62)

    Communication is the cement that binds all animal societies. Every day we share information with family members, friends, and business associates, not to mention numerous strangers in stores, gas stations, and other places. I (Kathleen) believe that Esteban was trying to communicate with Alita and the other female dolphins, though I cannot say the same for his actions toward me. That is, Esteban’s jaw claps seemed more like the phrases my husband utters in my direction when his attempts to fix a “sensor error” on our car go awry. This is more “self-communication” or expression than an attempt to share...

  9. Chapter 3 Eavesdropping
    (pp. 63-87)

    Listening to dolphins vocalize underwater is like being submerged within a highly orchestrated, yet flowing cacophony of sound. Fluid, high-pitched whistles seem to explode and then evaporate on the current. Abrupt chirps and squeaks, along with staccato squawks and creaking-door clicks, cause your eyebrows to rise and make you chuckle (which can leak water into your underwater mask if you’re not careful). When a dolphin turns toward you and explores you acoustically with echolocation, you may even feel the buzz of sound waves in your bones and muscles, as you reveal more detailed aspects of your physiology to the dolphin...

  10. Chapter 4 Beyond the Dolphin’s Smile
    (pp. 88-115)

    We identify with other animals when their emotions, thoughts, and desires are clear and decipherable. As mammals, we share many behaviors with other mammals—especially large carnivores like ourselves. Their facial expressions, body postures, and vocalizations, though diverse, are similar enough to ours that we may correctly guess their state of mind. Our closest animal friends are most certainly dogs, highly social “pack” mammals whose behaviors we have come to understand after fifteen thousand years of cohabitation.¹ Reading a dog’s behavior is second nature; few of us fail to comprehend the meaning of a wagging tail, a growl, or a...

  11. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  12. Chapter 5 Where Humans and Dolphins Meet
    (pp. 116-146)

    The history of dolphin-human interactions is long-standing, complex, and unique in the animal world. Even without the enticement of food, it is not unusual for dolphins to initiate social contact with humans. Few wild animals are featured so prominently, or so positively, in human mythology, art, architecture, literature, anthropology, history, and the media. Somewhat paradoxically, dolphins are also treated as significant economic resources to humans, for recreation, education, tourism, entertainment, and sometimes as food or even fertilizer.¹

    Cultures around the world tell the story of our long interaction with dolphins in mythology, folklore, and real-life accounts. Petroglyphs of dolphins date...

  13. Chapter 6 Communicating Conservation
    (pp. 147-162)

    The study of dolphin communication directly contributes to our ability to protect and enhance the welfare and conservation of cetaceans. It also guides us in assessing the effectiveness of such efforts. My (Kathleen’s) research has been cosponsored by ecotourism since 1991: people interested in learning more about dolphins or those individuals who just want to meet dolphins up close and personal join me during some portions of my fieldwork for data collection. I remember a trip to Belize in 1992 with a group of eight participants. Aboard our survey boat about midway through the trip, one of the women turned...

  14. Appendix 1. A Behavioral Guide to Dolphin Signals
    (pp. 163-165)
  15. Appendix 2. Etiquette for Interacting with Dolphins
    (pp. 166-168)
  16. Appendix 3. Scientific Names of Species Mentioned in the Text
    (pp. 169-170)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 171-186)
  18. Glossary
    (pp. 187-188)
  19. Bibliography
    (pp. 189-214)
  20. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 215-216)
  21. Index
    (pp. 217-224)