for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations
It's hard to write a boring book about dolphins. They are the low-hanging fruit of reader interest.
Dolphins have personalities. Dolphins are active, highly social, and ridiculously smart.
Who doesn't love dolphins?
To write The Dolphins of Shark Bay, with photographs by Scott Tuason (Harcourt, 2013), I traveled to Western Australia and spent a couple of weeks tagging along with Janet Mann, a scientist who has been studying bottlenose dolphins for over twenty-five years.
Spend any time with Janet and you'll learn that dolphins are very complex animals with very complex lives.
|Puck and her son Samu|
All of the male dolphins in Shark Bay engage in kidnapping in order to score mating opportunities with females, and may react violently if the female tries to escape their clutches.
In fact, the lives of adult male dolphins in Shark Bay resemble an awful sixth-grade slumber party where everybody is trying shoulder into the "popular" crowd.
I have never had to make those judgment calls about Thomas Jefferson and The Beatles (Though "Thomas Jefferson and the Beatles" would be a terrific book title).
But I said, "Yes, it's going in the book," to Janet's question about the dolphins' sex play. You can read about it in a chapter called "Dating Games."
Sex play, deadbeat moms and kidnappers may not align with most people's image of "Flipper." But by telling true stories about Reggae, Dodger, Puck, Nicky, Cookie, and Smokey, I was able to show readers the sorts of challenges wild animals face and how they respond to those challenges.
And just speaking for myself: the more I learn about dolphins, the more I love them.