Dolphin Diaries

Dolphin Diaries

My 25 Years with Spotted Dolphins in the Bahamas

By Denise L. Herzing

St. Martin's Press, Hardcover, 9780312608965, 336pp.

Publication Date: July 5, 2011


Dr. Denise Herzing began her research with a pod of spotted dolphins in the 1980s. Now, almost three decades later, she has forged strong ties with many of these individuals, has witnessed and recorded them feeding, playing, fighting, mating, giving birth and communicating. Dolphin Diaries is an account of Herzing’s research and her surprising findings on wild dolphin behavior, interaction, and communication. Readers will be drawn into the highs and lows—the births and deaths, the discovery of unique and personalized behaviors, the threats dolphins face from environmental changes, and the many funny and wonderful encounters Denise painstakingly documented over many years. This is the perfect book for anyone who loves these incredibly versatile and intelligent creatures and wants to find out more than the dolphin show at the zoo can offer. Herzing is a true pioneer in her field and deserves a place in the pantheon of naturalists and scientists next to Dian Fossey and Jane Goodall.

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.

Praise For Dolphin Diaries

"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

"Herzing passionately writes of her first summer cautiously immersed in the marine mammal’s world of clicks and whistles, their playtime and foreplay and in naming the dolphins and ultimately reconstructing elaborate family trees. Though it would take her five years to establish some semblance of shared trust and solace with the apprehensive dolphin pods, the many summers that followed only served to reinforce the author’s enthusiasm and perseverance for the wide-eyed observation of mothers and calves, their babysitting mystique, intricate interspecies relations (humans included) and elaborate communication coding. The author’s liberal use of “anthropomorphizing” (ascribing emotions to the dolphins) only adds to the exploration’s allure, especially when threatening elements like storms, dangerous water currents and hungry sharks enter the picture. Herzing’s fervent work became disrupted, however, by three hurricanes the 2004-5 seasons, which displaced many of the dolphins she’d been meticulously documenting. Inspired by the pioneering work of Jacques Cousteau, Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey, 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