The Dusky Dolphin book cover

The Dusky Dolphin

Master Acrobat Off Different Shores

Much has been written about dolphins and whales, and excellent books exist especially on the charismatic bottlenose dolphins; and killer, humpback, and sperm whales. But detailed studies have been carried out on a handful of other species, and this book summarizes our state of knowledge of a little dolphin – the southern hemisphere “dusky,” and compares its behavioral strategies in different environs. The editors, Bernd and Mel Würsig, began studying duskies in Patagonia Argentina in 1972. Although they have been to many parts of the Earth since then -- including work on Amazon and Yangtze river dolphins, Hawai’i for the delicate lovely spinner dolphin, the Arctic for bowhead and gray whale work, and bottlenose dolphins in several milieus -- they have always returned to their first love of unraveling the social patterns and life strategies of duskies that exist in small groups in semi-enclosed bays and as herds of well over one thousand in the open ocean. This book documents the latest research, from their feeding patterns to their acrobatic skills. It is full of scientific facts, with a sense of poetry and wonder of the unknown.

Marine biologists; mammalogists; students of animal behavior; students of social ecology

Hardbound, 416 Pages

Published: September 2009

Imprint: Academic Press

ISBN: 978-0-12-373723-6


  • "... this beautifully illustrated book, with many color photos (e.g., p. 247) and close to a thousand combined references at the end for easy look-up, is the very best to date describing our current state of knowledge on the dusky dolphin-and in doing so shedding light on the life of any other delphinid, too, for that matter. The Dusky Dolphin, simply put, is one of those classics which should not be missing from the shelves of anyone in the marine mammal field."--Michiel Schotten, Department of Marine Biology, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
    "Chapters are well written and the mostly high-quality color figures are useful and relevant. This volume illustrates that the incremental progress made in any individual study can contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of a species. This ‘big picture’ is lacking for many species, but is sorely needed as management issues continue to become more complicated and pressing as we move further into the 21st century."--Quarterly Review of Biology, September 2012, page 273


  • Chapter 1: The Dusky Dolphins’ Place in the Delphinid Family Tree

    Chapter 2: Dusky Dolphin Life History and Demography

    Chapter 3: Dusky Dolphin Trophic Ecology: Their Role in the Food Web

    Chapter 4: Acoustics of Dusky Dolphins

    Chapter 5: Dusky Dolphins Foraging at Night

    Chapter 6: Dusky Dolphins Foraging in Daylight

    Chapter 7: Predator Threats and Dusky Dolphin Survival Strategies

    Chapter 8: Mating Habits of New Zealand Dusky Dolphins

    Chapter 9: Dusky Dolphin Calf Rearing

    Chapter 10: Dusky Dolphin Sexual Segregation and Genetic Relatedness in New Zealand

    Chapter 11: Human Interactions with Dusky Dolphins: Harvest, Fisheries, Habitat Alteration, and Tourism

    Chapter 12: Human Interactions, A Management Perspective with Focus on Dusky Dolphins

    Chapter 13: Dolphin Swimming and Watching: One Tourism Operator's perspective

    Dennis Buurman

    Chapter 14: Neglected but not Forgotten: Southern Africa's Dusky Dolphin

    Chapter 15: Patterns of Sympatry in Lagenorhynchus and Cephalorhynchus: Dolphins in Different Habitats

    Chapter 16: A Large-Brained Social Mammal

    Chapter 17: Social Creatures in a Changing Sea: Concluding Remarks


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