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Dolphin Diaries: My 25 Years with Spotted Dolphins in the Bahamas Paperback – Jul 3 2012

4 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (July 3 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781250006912
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250006912
  • ASIN: 1250006910
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 458 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #918,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“Tales of diving with wild dolphins, recalcitrant equipment, living on boats, and hurricanes really bring both the excitement and the drudgery of field research to life.” ―Booklist

“Herzing's focused, captivating account concludes with moving animal-rights arguments centered around the injustices foisted upon defenseless cetaceans and the many other species senselessly killed or held in cruel captivity.Solid, fascinating spadework.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Denise Herzing's new book about her unique experiences studying dolphin tribes over two decades in the Bahamas demonstrates the importance of keeping dolphins wild and free. We can learn a lot from dolphins on their own terms in the ocean. This is the beauty of Dolphin Diaries.” ―Ric O'Barry, featured in the Academy-Award-winning documentary The Cove, director of the Dolphin Project at Earth Island Institute, and author of Behind the Dolphin Smile

“Only somebody who has studied dolphins as closely and for as long as Dr. Herzing can bring us dispatches from an alien world that can touch us as deeply as the dolphin tales she tells in this remarkable book. Reading Dolphin Diaries made me realize how much effort, how much thought, how much respect has to go into any true attempt to get close to another animal. Dr. Herzing has done it. She has put in the time and the intelligence, and therefore her views about dolphins should have enormous impact. Her message, in the end, is one that applies to so many other animals with whom we share this fragile planet, but is so rarely heard that it behooves us to listen to it again and again: ‘Every dolphin is someone's mother, brother, or friend. I wish them to be always in their world, on their terms, where they belong, in the wild.'” ―Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, Ph.D, author of When Elephants Weep, Dogs Never Lie About Love, and The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats

Dolphin Diaries is a must read for anyone who wants to know what it is like to be a free-living dolphin. Denise Herzing calls on her extensive experience to tell us about their highly evolved communication skills, their rich and deep emotional lives, the complexity of their social relationships, and the ups and downs they face among themselves and in their interactions with humans. Dolphins don't belong in captivity and if you wonder whether these amazing beings should be confined in aquariums, these uncertainties will evaporate as you read this groundbreaking book.” ―Marc Bekoff, University of Colorado; author of The Emotional Lives of Animals, Wild Justice, and The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons for Expanding Our Compassion Footprint

“On certain moonlit nights along the Bahamas coral reefs, you may see Denise gracefully swimming in the calm waters on her way out to sea. If you look closely, you might also see a dolphin tail slap. What a remarkable and dedicated woman. Dolphin Dairies is an extraordinary account of dolphin behavior written with emotional flair. This is a must-read for those who venture into the deep.” ―Ralph Helfer, author of Modoc, Zamba and The Beauty of the Beasts

Dolphin Diaries carries its readers into the world of one of the planet's most intelligent, curious and perhaps misunderstood creatures -- dolphins. At the same time the book is a personal account of Herzing's own journey through more than 25 years of research. She shares the stories of her dolphin acquaintances, her insights into their lives, and the thought processes that have directed her research over the years. She conveys a sense of how alien and yet also familiar the dolphins are in this compelling account. Herzing's journey is one-of-a-kind. Luckily for the rest of us, she writes beautifully -- this book is not to be missed.” ―Bernd Heinrich, author of The Nesting Season and Mind of the Raven

“No one has spent as much time with wild dolphins as Denise Herzing, and this is the best way to understand their mind and their culture. It is the most intimate and heartfelt account ever written of the human-cetacean bond.” ―David Rothenberg, author of Thousand Mile Song and Survival of the Beautiful

About the Author

DR. DENISE L. HERZING is the founder and director of The Wild Dolphin Project, a fellow with the Explorer's Club, a founding member of the Marine Mammal Society, and a professor in biological sciences at Florida Atlantic University. She is the recipient of a 2008 Guggenheim fellowship in Science Writing, and was nominated for a Wings World Quest award. She lives in Palm Beach County, Florida.

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Format: Paperback
Herzing conducts anthropology on dolphins, watching them intently like she was Margaret Mead or Jane Goodall under the waves -- for 25 years. When it comes to pushing the envelope on inter-species communication, she doesn't try teaching the dolphins English, and doesn't really do heavy-duty linguistic analysis of the dolphins' chatter. She mostly plays with them, just building up the level of familiarity and interaction, almost like making friends by playing charades underwater.

This book is not a scientific tome aimed at fellow academics. It's a personal life-at-sea story, told in ordinary English. The main target audience, I believe, is all the girls and young women who might aspire to a ground-breaking career exploring the world's and abilities of other animal species. To Herzing's mind, it's as great as being an astronaut.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa6d9093c) out of 5 stars 18 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa6f2d684) out of 5 stars Exceptional, important work Sept. 16 2011
By Thomas White - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book is important in three distinct ways. It first shows that in order to do the kind of solid science that lets us understand dolphins, one has to commit to years of difficult, careful, patient research in the wild. Herzing's accomplishment on this score alone places her on the same tier as such scientists as Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Cynthia Moss. Second, the book provides an impressive amount of evidence for the richness and complexity of dolphin social life and social intelligence. Herzing has been privileged to be allowed by this cetacean community to learn more about who they are and how they live, and the importance of the information that she conveys to the rest of us cannot be overstated. Third, and most important, the ethical implications of Herzing's work are clear, profound and troubling. Her research provides important support for those who argue that dolphins are "nonhuman persons" whose "rights" should be recognized. Any reader who reaches the end of the book and is not convinced that the willful slaughter of dolphins, their preventable deaths in connection with human fishing and the captivity of dolphins for any purpose are ethically indefensible simply wasn't paying attention to Herzing's masterful exposition.

Thomas White, Fellow, Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, and author of IN DEFENSE OF DOLPHINS.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa6f11138) out of 5 stars A fascinating study of dolphin behavior in their world Oct. 9 2011
By Lynda Green - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Denise Herzing is an intuitive scientist who has given us a glimpse of dolphin societies and the individuals that live in those societies. Her 25 years of research is based on sound science and intense observation in the wild and in the dolphins' world. Not only is she the lead scientist in dolphin behavior, but her writing is extraordinary. We laugh with her when reading about Caroh, the scarf thief and we cry with her when we hear that 30% of the population of spotted dolphins disappear after a horrendous hurricane. We learn that dolphins lead rich lives; they have deep social connections; their complexity as the most intelligent marine mammal is evident as we observe with her. I have no doubt that Dr. Herzing will be the scientist to achieve a two-way communication in the future. Dolphin Diaries not only bonds you to these magnificent creatures, but one realizes that we must conserve and preserve our oceans as well in order to allow marine mammals to live in a healthy environment. Her book makes it clear that each one of us has a personal responsibility to protect all living things. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about dolphins, not in captivity, but in their 'own world.' lynda green
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Adam Pack - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Herzing's book is a must read for those who aspire to be the next Jane Goodall studying a dolphin or whale species in the wild, for future marine mammal scientists, and for those who simply love dolphins. Unlike other books on dolphins and whales, Herzing brings us face-to-face with a cast of characters with unique personalities making their living together in the wild. Through Herzing's eyes and ears, we follow individual dolphin life histories, experience the long bonds of mothers and calves, and marvel at the entire social network that forms the society of the Atlantic spotted dolphin. We also learn of the hard work, fortitude and perseverance that is required to carry off such a remarkable study. It is clear that Dr. Herzing's investment of time and energy has yielded huge dividends, and through this delightful book, we...and the dolphins are the lucky recipients. Bravo!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa68500fc) out of 5 stars Must-have book for dolphin lovers Sept. 9 2011
By William Rossiter/CSI - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Dolphin Diaries is the one book you must read if you love, like or care about dolphins. This is Dr. Denise L. Herzing's much-anticipated narrative of her first 25 years literally immersing herself in the lives of a unique community of Atlantic spotted dolphins off the Bahamas. Dolphin Diaries is an unequalled exploration of the generational lives of the dolphins she knows, and who know her, proof of the accolades comparing her to Goodall, Moss, Fossey, Strum and the very few others who have revolutionized our knowledge of the lives of creatures we think of as different, but with whom we share so much. Like them, she built relationships, etiquette and rapport, to gain the dolphins' trust and interest.
On one level Dolphin Diaries is like a novel written through the eyes of a lyrical observer strolling through a small village, meeting friends, making sense of what's on people's minds as they interact with each other, occasionally invited into a game, discussion or party, all while painting vignettes that makes the scene vividly real. But Dolphin Diaries is fact, not fiction, and while it's about dolphins the point Herzing gets across well is that we share with them more than some humans are comfortable to admit. About an event involving Zigzag, a young male, she writes: "It would be impossible to not be self aware and empathetic for such an event to occur. There is no doubt in my mind that dolphins are both."
On another level this book has more scientific facts about these dolphins than any single scientific paper, but it's such easy reading you may not be aware that you're learning the very leading edge, not just about this species, but about the value of long-term interactive research conducted "in their world, on their terms". She laments that "the process of spending time with the natural world is in jeopardy, causing us to lose sight of it while at the same time we are trying to measure it." She thinks "it is a loss for the world, to reduce animals to data, instead of telling their story". Herzing recognized from the start that her scientific obligation to describe her observations accurately required her to make use of cetology's scarlet letter "A", and by example she sets the professional standard for using anthropomorphic terms properly to communicate the reality of dolphin life. Until someone invents a suitable vocabulary for non-human animal behavior no scientist is justified to ignore what is obvious, but they do.
And there's another level, as Herzing accounts for her decades of struggle to create, fund and manage what amounts to a yearly research expedition to find highly mobile creatures in a vast, remote region, always to do no harm, to stay as long as it's safe, and to bring back reams of data about a world humans are ill-equipped to sense, understand, or survive. She expresses this as her "moving between the human world and the dolphin world, finding different type of food that feed my soul". As rare as her qualities are my hope is that a kindred spirit will be inspired by her example, as she was by Goodall, to take on another species "in their world, on their terms".
And last, she advocates, freely filling the end of her book by taking on many of the issues of concern to CSI and so many others today. Again she stands out from most of her peers, as very few professional scientists go beyond gathering data they might hope someone will use, but they don't voice their opinions or advocate their concerns. Herzing's status among peers will amplify what she says, and truly help cetaceans and the oceans.
Her Wild Dolphin Project is a continuing reality because of her unique abilities, hard lessons learned well, and of course the support of many people and foundations that have fairly judged this single project to be worthy of their dedication. She also gets to lead dolphins once in a while, by their choice, having respectfully earned her place among them. She makes it look easy, but it's far, far beyond what most could do.
OK, so I liked the book! In fact I'll read it again. Thanks, Denise!
Bill Rossiter
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa684ee3c) out of 5 stars For dolphin lovers... July 6 2013
By Richmond Curtiss - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you really love dolphins, you will love this book. Since it is essentially a dissertation on a research project, it can be a bit clinical but the information is fascinating. She has laid an excellent foundation for future communication with dolphins. It gave me hope that the two most intelligent species on earth may well share a joint future.