Sunday, October 21, 2012

Book Review: Dolphin Confidential

Dolphin Confidential
Maddalena Bearzi
Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (April 15, 2012)

Bearzi's touching memoir of her scientific work is mostly about dolphins, but there's a great deal more here. First is her personal journey. The author doesn't start with a data dump on dolphins: rather, we see through her eyes as she progresses through her degrees and practical work to learn about animals (graduating from lizards up through sea turtles to cetaceans). She cautions about over-humanizing other animals, but admits the temptation is sometimes irresistible. An incident where a group of dolphins stopped feeding and took off at high speed to (apparently) lead researchers to an isolated and drowning human makes her wonder. As her studies and conservation efforts take her from the Mediterranean to the Pacific, we not only learn about creatures and ecosystems but dire environmental threats. Everyone (hopefully) knows we are damaging the marine ecosystem with garbage and pollutants, but Bearzi brings it home in a personal way no reader will forget. If you want detailed breakdowns of species, ranges, etc., there are better books for that, but this author's personal journey into the world of the dolphin is unforgettable.

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