Pamela S. Turner

The Dolphins of Shark Bay

“Required read­ing for any­one who believes we are the only,  or even the most, sapi­ent species on the planet.”

School Library Jour­nal, starred review

The Dolphins of Shark Bay

About the Book

Every­one knows dol­phins are smart. But why are they smart? How did such a sophis­ti­cat­ed mind arise in the ocean?

The answer can’t be found in a con­crete tank. If you want to know why dol­phins are smart, you must ask: what is hap­pen­ing out in the wild, in the dol­phins’ nat­ur­al envi­ron­ment? Why does a wild dol­phin need to be smart? Per­haps the best place in the world to answer this ques­tion is in Shark Bay, West­ern Aus­tralia. Using sponges as tools is just one of the aston­ish­ing­ly odd, cre­ative, and inge­nious things these dol­phins do. The Dol­phins of Shark Bay chal­lenges read­ers to con­sid­er how intel­li­gence evolves and how we treat oth­er intel­li­gent creatures.

Awards and Recognition

Nation­al Sci­ence Teach­ers Asso­ci­a­tion Out­stand­ing Sci­ence Trade Book
School Library Jour­nal Best Book of the Year
Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year
Bank Street Col­lege Best Chil­dren’s Books of the Year List
Gold­en Kite Non­fic­tion Hon­or
AAAS Sci­ence Books & Films Best Book of the Year
Junior Library Guild Selec­tion
Bul­letin of the Cen­ter for Chil­dren’s Books starred review
Kirkus Reviews starred review
School Library Jour­nal starred review


Kirkus Reviews starred review
“If dol­phins learn how to use tools from their moth­ers, does that mean they have a cul­ture? This is only one of the inter­est­ing ques­tions addressed in this lat­est entry in the Sci­en­tists in the Field series … Smooth­ly woven into the text are facts about dol­phin life and evo­lu­tion as well as meth­ods of sci­en­tif­ic obser­va­tion. This fas­ci­nat­ing win­dow into their com­pli­cat­ed soci­ety (“a juve­nile dolphin’s world resem­bles mid­dle school. But with sharks”) is illus­trat­ed with clear­ly iden­ti­fied pho­tographs of the dol­phins as well as the sci­en­tists. … An exem­plary addi­tion to an always thought-pro­vok­ing series. ”

School Library Jour­nal starred review
“Turn­er’s newest offer­ing tops even her stel­lar The Frog Sci­en­tist (2009) and Project Sea­horse (2010, both Houghton Mif­flin) as she delin­eates and explains the research being con­duct­ed on a unique clan of dol­phins at Shark Bay, Aus­tralia … A chal­leng­ing, attrac­tive eye-opener.”

Bul­letin of the Cen­ter for Chil­dren’s Books starred review
“She’s self-cen­tered, her kid needs fos­ter care, and her own fam­i­ly won’t have any­thing to do with her.” No, she’s not the moth­er in a YA nov­el, but one of the dol­phins being stud­ied in this cap­ti­vat­ing new out­ing in the ven­er­a­ble Sci­en­tists in the Field series … While being delib­er­ate­ly anti-myth­i­cal about dol­phins (“Dol­phins aren’t noble elves in wet­suits”), the book con­veys the won­der of learn­ing more about the intri­ca­cy of anoth­er species, and read­ers will be won over by the dol­phins and the science.”

The Dolphins of Shark Bay

pho­tographs by Scott Tua­son
Sci­en­tists in the Field
Houghton Mif­flin Har­court, 2013
hard­cov­er ISBN 978–0547716381
paper­back ISBN 978–0544809093

sci­en­tist Janet Mann observes Lick and her calf, Cheeky

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