A Conversation with Kathleen Dudzinski and Toni Frohff:
Q: What inspired both of you to make the study of dolphins your lifeÂ’s work?
A: Toni: It was the mind of the dolphin that intrigued me the most. I wanted to know how these amazingly intelligent animals communicated with each other and with us. But it is the heart of the dolphin that motivates me to return to the sea for more. By understanding dolphins as individuals, IÂ’ve observed a diverse and rich complex of emotions that is belied by their permanent Â“smiles.Â” I am therefore inspired to learn how to better protect these smart and passionate mammals.
Kathleen: I have always loved science, the ocean, and animals. A college internship studying dolphins and whales showed me that I could merge these three passions, and so I jumped at the opportunity to pursue research on dolphin social behavior.
Q: Are there specific challenges you confront in observing dolphins, and what are they?
A: When we observe wild dolphins, the first challenge is finding them. The ocean is vast with many places to hide. Observing dolphins noninvasively is another challenge, especially when so many individuals are so very inquisitive of us underwater. Having the correct tools to document their behavior and vocalizations has been yet another challenge. But new technologies are helping in this respect. The biggest challenge of all is just spending time underwater: we can only visit their aquatic world for short bursts.
Q: What is unique about the way that dolphins communicate?A: Their bells and whistles and their use of sonar are truly impressive. Most fascinating is that dolphins use touch and behaviors such as jaw clapping as forms of communication.
Q: What do you hope readers will learn from reading Dolphin Mysteries?A: We hope readers will enjoy the journey weÂ’ve experienced in studying these magnificent creatures and gain a better understanding of the unique requirements of dolphins and their ocean home. We have to strive for better protection of the worldÂ’s marine ecosystems and the animals in them. Also, dolphins deserve to be recognized and protected as individuals as well as in populations.