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Dolphin Confidential

Confessions of a Field Biologist

Who hasn’t fantasized about the unique thrill of working among charismatic and clever dolphins in the wild? Now we no longer have to rely solely on our imaginations . With Dolphin Confidential, Maddalena Bearzi invites all of us shore-bound dreamers to join her and travel alongside the dolphins. In this fascinating account, she takes us inside the world of a marine scientist and offers a firsthand understanding of marine mammal behavior, as well as the frustrations, delights, and creativity that make up dolphin research. 

In this intimate narrative, Bearzi recounts her experiences at sea, tracing her own evolution as a woman and a scientist from her earliest travails to her transformation into an advocate for conservation and dolphin protection. These compelling, in-depth descriptions of her fieldwork also present a captivating look into dolphin social behavior and intelligence. The central part of the book is devoted to the metropolitan bottlenose dolphins of California, as Bearzi draws on her extensive experience to offer insights into the daily lives of these creatures—as well as the difficulties involved in collecting the data that transforms hunches into hypotheses and eventually scientific facts. The book closes by addressing the critical environmental and conservation problems facing these magnificent, socially complex, highly intelligent, and emotional beings.  

An honest, down-to-earth analysis of what it means to be a marine biologist in the field today, Dolphin Confidential offers an entertaining, refreshingly candid, and always informative description of life among the dolphins.

216 pages | 71 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 2012

Biological Sciences: Evolutionary Biology, Natural History


“I simply love this book. In Dolphin Confidential, renowned scientist Maddalena Bearzi tells us what it is like to be a field researcher and what it is like to be a dolphin, the ups and downs of daily life, and her excitement about learning just who these fascinating animals are. Bearzi’s science is impeccable, and her book is an easy read for those who want to share her and the dolphin’s lives.”

Marc Bekoff, author of Wild Justice

“Maddalena Bearzi impresses me with her capabilities and passion as a marine mammal scientist and her clear and erudite manner of expressing the interface between science and an emotional sense of the animals she studies. I recommend this beautifully illustrated book to the starry-eyed juvenile would-be marine biologist, to those of us beginning our twilight years who may need a reminder of how we started and what this should mean in a larger sense of helping fragile Earth, and to all those academically and environmentally minded in between.”

Bernd Würsig, Texas A&M University at Galveston

“This is a delightful chronicle of a young ocean lover’s journey to turn her passion into a career in science, and that scientist’s coming-of-age as she observes an ocean changing around her and the creatures she has come to love and defend. I found it both relaxing and energizing, all at the same time.”

Carl Safina, author of  Song for the Blue Ocean

“Dolphin Confidential takes the reader on the author’s memorable journey from a curious nature-lover to a respected, thoughtful scientist and conservation advocate. Full of intriguing observations and exciting field experiences, this book will help people to view the oceans and marine life with respect and joy, and to build the stewardship ethic that is so greatly needed. For people who love and are fascinated by dolphins, this book is a true treasure.”

Ellen Prager, author of Sex, Drugs, and Sea Slime: The Ocean’s Oddest Creatures and Why They Matter

“Pairing vivid images of bottlenose dolphins swimming together and caring for one another with descriptions of the meticulous scientific work required to record their behavior, Maddalena Bearzi (founder, Los Angeles Dolphin Project; coauthor, Beautiful Minds: The Parallel Lives of Great Apes and Dolphins ) sheds light on the life of a field biologist. She avoids attributing human emotions to dolphins (their brains’ responses cannot be documented in the wild) but conveys her love of the species and concern for their survival in ever more-polluted oceans. . . . A beautifully written account of the author’s scientific development.”

Library Journal

"You’ll meet the amazing dolphins who live in the so-called metropolitan waters off Los Angeles—as well as plenty of colorful characters of the human variety—in the lively, informative Dolphin Confidential. Marine biologist Bearzi is an appealing literary companion. Her narrative is charming and accessible, full of fun scientific facts and beautifully observed detail. Still, as easygoing as the story may be, Bearzi doesn’t shy away from challenging, big-picture issues: wildlife conservation, animal cognition, and the shared health concerns of animals and humans. Dolphin Confidential is the perfect beach read: you can look up from its pages entertained and infinitely more knowledgeable about the marine habitat before your very eyes."

Zocalo Public Square

“This book reveals fascinating incidents in the career of a young woman born in Italy who conducted research on lizards, sea turtles, and dolphins. After immigrating to the US, Bearzi continued her education and research, concentrating on dolphins. Her enthusiastic and engaging account of her research career will be of interest to any young student interested in biology. . . . Highly recommended.”


Table of Contents

Part 1            Magical Bonds
                        1          Yucatán
                        2          Among Lizards
                        3          Departure
                        4          Face-to-Face with Dolphins
                        5          Adiós, El Palmar
                        6          Conservation Awakening
Part 2            Metropolitan Dolphins
                        7          California
                        8          Academia
                        9          Cosmopolitan Dolphins
                        10        Party Time!
                        11        Desperately Seeking Dolphins
                        12        Fingerprinted
Part 3            Hard Times
                        13        Invading Their World
                        14        Dolphins Under the Weather
                        15        Vanishing Innocents
Part 4            Learning from Dolphins
                        16        Alike
                        17        Emotional Beings
List of Cetaceans Cited
Suggested Readings


JM Northern Media: The Green Book Festival

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