Dolphins Down Under

By: Liz Slooten and Steve Dawson
Image result for 9781877578380Location: NF 599.53 
Genre: Dolphins

As a kid I spent a lot of time at Goosebay which is near Kaikoura. We did heaps of fishing in our boat - Kotare. That was the first Maori word I learnt. While we were out on the briny fishing for Hapuka , Kaiwhai and  Soldier Fish the dolphins would come and play. It is a memory of childhood delight, so bouncey , happy and smiley. I could watch them all day. I just hope my grandchildren have the opportunity for the same experience.
This book will help us understand them more and by understanding comes knowledge and knowledge protects.

New Zealand dolphins, also known as Hector’s dolphins, are fascinating and beautiful animals. Found only in New Zealand waters, their numbers are now under constant threat—especially from human fishing activities. This book introduces the dolphin to readers of all ages. The authors have devoted the last 30 years—more than a dolphin lifespan—to intensive study of the dolphin’s distribution, behavior, biology, reproduction and communication, using photography as their principal research tool. They have identified over 100 individuals and recorded their life events.

This review is by Tui Allen from and it is stunning! If you are a teacher- read this review!

The first paragraph states, “New Zealand dolphins, also known as Hector’s dolphins, are absolutely remarkable animals. Found only in New Zealand, they are as ‘kiwi’ as the kiwi. They are rare, fascinating and beautiful.”
From there on, everything that needs to be said on this heart-wrenching and controversial topic, is said concisely and accurately in an easy conversational style that is clear, user-friendly and tight. The authors have left all the scientific jargon and endless but sometimes necessary detail, where it belongs in their voluminous scientific papers. Here they bring the topic to life in a slim handy volume which will be easily usable by children in secondary schools and to anyone of any age from there up. 
Beginning with the delicious cover image of two dolphins clearly displaying their perfection of form for their special wild environment, the photographs throughout bring everything to life, both the beauties and the hard truths that need to be faced. 
The book is the perfect tool we need to circulate nationally and internationally, everything that needs to be known about NZ dolphins. It could help to save animals that can contribute so much to our nation’s prestige, should we save them from their imminent demise and which could also be the cause of the country’s eternal shame should we fail them, in which case NZ’s clean green image will take a serious knock. There are people all over the world watching carefully to see how this country treats these dolphins and many of them care far more for their fate, than that of our flightless birds. 
If these dolphins become extinct, New Zealand will go down in history as the nation that was the first to cause the extinction of a marine dolphin. The research here described by these committed and professional scientists will leave you in no doubt that the major threats to their continued existence are human ones. The book showed clearly what a treasure we have right here on our doorstep and how important it is that we learn to value these animals as they deserve.
There are chapters about the dolphins’ behaviour, communications and biology, as well as one called Conservation Problems and Solutions, and another which describes a typical day of the field research work. There is also a section describing ways individuals can help the dolphins.

It could become a useful secondary school text and ought to be required reading for every politician who has anything to do with conservation and protecting this nation's tourism image and biodiversity. How marine conservationists will wish for the scientific research methods described here to be adopted by the so-called “researchers” from Japan who kill their cetacean research subjects and sell the meat as food. 
While it is obviously an objective and factual text, this has not stopped the authors from occasionally exhibiting a humour that the dolphins themselves might approve. An example of this is their description of the "Milo Method" of attracting dolphins to approach your boat of their own accord. It made me laugh out loud and did not detract from the seriousness of the topic at all.
I thought I knew everything I needed to know about the conservation of our special dolphins but I learned much of value from this book. I will be keeping it in pride of place, re-reading whenever possible and never lending it to my friends.(They have to buy their own copy)
This book is a treasure, as are the New Zealand dolphins. 


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