Today we're excited to spotlight Dolphins: Voices in the Ocean by Susan Casey! Read on for more about Susan and her book, plus the top 5 amazing facts about dolphins, and a giveaway!
Meet Susan Casey!
Based on Susan Casey’s bestselling adult work Voices in the Ocean: A Journey into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins, this young readers adaptation, which includes an 8-page photo insert, explores the extraordinary world of dolphins in an interesting and accessible format that engages as well as entertains. Inspired by an encounter with a pod of spinner dolphins off the coast of Maui, author Susan Casey embarked on a two-year global adventure to study these remarkable beings. Casey details the extraordinary connection between dolphins and humans, including shared characteristics such as capacity for emotion, playfulness, sociability, and intelligence, the sophisticated navigation ability innate in dolphins, and the dangers they face from people who aim to profit by putting them in captivity or far worse.DOLPHINS: VOICES IN THE OCEAN is perfect for middle grade readers interested in science, dolphins, STEM, and sea life.
1.) Dolphins call themselves by name
Each dolphin has his own signature whistle, which he uses to identify himself. In an experiment, scientists also learned that if a dolphin whistles another dolphin’s name, that dolphin responds—in the same way we would if someone were calling to us. This raises interesting questions about how dolphins communicate, because it seems unlikely they’d have names for themselves, but not for anything else around them. Researcher Denise Herzing, of the Wild Dolphin Project has been working with a pod of dolphins on the Bahama Banks, trying to decode their mysterious language. Someday we may know more about what they are saying to one another.
2.) The Dolphin Brain is Like Our Brain—And Completely Different, Too
Like the human brain, the dolphin brain has two hemispheres, and is large and complex. Unlike humans, however, the dolphins are able to operate both sides of their brains independently. For instance, when dolphins sleep, they don’t completely nod off, the way we do. They simply switch off one side of their brain to rest, while the other side stays awake and alert. The reason for that is because, as air- breathing mammals who live underwater, they are voluntary breathers: each breath they take is a conscious choice. If they’re knocked out or become unconscious underwater, they will drown. We humans, on the other hand, breathe involuntarily. Even when we’re unconscious, our bodies keep taking in air.
The dolphin brain also contains a mysterious extra lobe in the limbic system, the area that governs emotion. It is a large, elaborate structure, which leads scientists to believe that dolphins process their emotions in highly sophisticated ways. And here is another big difference between their brain and ours: the modern dolphin brain is about 35 million years old, while the modern human brain is only about 200,000 years old.
3.) Dolphins Form Strong Friendships that Can Last for Decades
Like us, dolphins form intense, long-term relationships with others and maintain them over time, even when separated for extended periods. Scientist Jason Bruck proved that dolphins recognize their friends’ signature whistles even after twenty years apart. Their bonds are so strong that when dolphins are in trouble they will not leave one another even if it costs them their lives. And when dolphins do lose a loved one, they behave in ways that suggest deep grief.
4.) Dolphins Navigate the Ocean by Relying on Sound
Dolphins use echolocation, or biological sonar, as their main sense underwater. They have good eyesight as well, but in the depths of the oceans, and when they’re hunting at night, they obviously can’t rely on their vision. To use their sonar, dolphins generate ultrasonic clicks using structures in their nasal passages (near their blowhole); a fat-filled sac in their foreheads called a melon focuses the sound. When the clicks hit an object the dolphins receive the echoes back through their lower jaws, which are also lined with fatty liquids. From the jaws, the acoustic feedback is transmitted up to their ears and into their
brain, where it’s then interpreted by their other senses, such as vision. Using this amazing sense, dolphins can detect the finest details about their surroundings. During one experiment, scientists blindfolded dolphins and watched them swim through a maze to locate a scrap of fish. In another test, the blindfolded dolphins were able to tell the difference between a sheet of copper and a sheet of aluminum, even at a distance. Even the most sophisticated manmade sonar systems are nowhere near as accurate and powerful as the dolphins’ biological sonar.
5.) Dolphins Love to Surf
It’s common to see an entire pod hovering at the edge of a surf break—just like surfers on their boards—waiting for waves. They’ll ride a wave altogether, and then peel off at the end, just like we do. As far as scientists can tell, the dolphins do this purely for fun!
Dolphins: Voices in the Ocean
By: Susan Casey
Release Date: January 23, 2018
Three winners will receive a copy of Dolphins: Voices in the Ocean (US only).