This scientific memoir by an aquarium researcher “illuminate[s] the world of the dolphin’s amazing intelligence and playfulness.” —Temple Grandin
“One comes away from Reiss’s book agreeing that ‘dolphins are among the smartest creatures on the planet’ and that they merit not just our attention but our care and protection.” —The New York Times
Dolphins are creative and self-aware, with distinct personalities and the ability to communicate with humans. They craft their own toys, use underwater keyboards, and live in complex societies throughout the seas. And yet, some nations continue to slaughter them indiscriminately.
Diana Reiss is one of the world’s leading experts on dolphin intelligence. Her decades of research and interactions with dolphins have made her a strong advocate for their global protection. In The Dolphin in the Mirror, Reiss demonstrates just how smart dolphins really are, and makes a compelling case for why we must protect them.
“Reiss, who served as an adviser on the Oscar-winning 2009 film ‘The Cove’ . . . writes passionately about the need to protect these sentient creatures.” —The Washington Post
“Reiss fills the book with such intriguing tales and with the science behind them. . . . Reiss is passionate about her science, but she is passionate about her subjects as well.” —The Tampa Bay Times
“Her enthusiasm is contagious.” —Publishers Weekly
“Reiss has managed no small feat—synthesizing personal experience, descriptive material, and scientific fact. . . . No one reading this book could possibly remain untouched by the beauty and intelligence of these powerful mammals of the sea.” —Irene Pepperberg, author of Alex & Me
Dolphins have long captivated mankind, and this wide-ranging account of the highly evolved species demonstrates the complexity of this relationship and the challenges of writing about our sentimental attachments to animals. Riess's is an enthusiastic if unwieldy project, a hodgepodge of personal memoir, tutorial on captive dolphin behavior, and advocacy for halting large-scale dolphin hunts in Taiji, Japan. While Reiss, director of dolphin research at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, offers lengthy descriptions of her initial studies, she also notes that some of her approach and affinity for her subjects "really came from the gut, my intuition." That doesn't mean she doesn't achieve some groundbreaking insights. Her strengths are clearly in her research rather than her writing. She demonstrates, for instance, that dolphins are self-aware, a quality thought only to exist in the higher primates, though her nonscientific explanation doesn't measure up to her abilities to convey its import ("we felt that our work was a really big breakthrough") and she expresses her attachment to dolphins with the sincere but pedestrian "I am the luckiest person in the world!" Her enthusiasm is contagious, but hinders her from achieving her stated aim: a change in consciousness about ourselves and other animals, not in a fuzzy New Age way but in a way based on science."