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NO SWEAT

Essays for dolphin lovers

Between Species Celebrating the Dolphin-Human Bond Edited by Toni Frohoff and Brenda Peterson Sierra Club Books, $24.95

September 30, 2003|Shermakaye Bass

Jean-Michel Cousteau might have known dolphins have a five-digit "hand" hidden inside their pectoral fins (skeletal remnants from a 55-million-year-old ancestor that may have walked the Earth). But the average dolphin lover probably didn't. It's this sort of link, though, that will keep readers flipping through this anthology of essays on the kinship between humans and dolphins.

Cousteau discusses the so-far-so-good fate of Keiko (of "Free Willy" controversy) and why dolphins and whales should never be studied in captivity. And the late John C. Lilly, a pioneer in cetology, shares one of his last essays, "Toward a Cetacean Nation," pondering his perennial question about dolphins' otherworldly origins (Lilly's work inspired "Day of the Dolphin"). The book's 30-odd contributors span an ocean of issues. How does our interaction with dolphins affect them? Do we have the right to create "swim-with-the-dolphin" programs?

But it's not all science here. There are many tales of spontaneous encounters that leave us wondering: Exactly how smart are the mammals with the Mona Lisa smile?

-- Shermakaye Bass

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