The Dolphins of Shark Bay (Scientists in the Field Series)

Last updated Monday, November 3, 2014

Author: Pamela S. Turner
Date of Publication: 2013
ISBN: 0547716389
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Nov. 2014

Synopsis: Ride alongside the author Pamela S. Turner and her scientific team and meet a cast of dolphin characters large enough (and charismatic enough) to rival a Shakespearean play—Puck, Piccolo, Flute, and Dodger among them. You will fall in love with this crew, both human and finned, as they seek to answer the question: just why are dolphins so smart? And what does their behavior tell us about human intelligence, captive animals, and the future of the ocean? Beautiful photos of dolphins in their natural habitat and a funny, friendly, and fast-paced text make this another winner in the Scientists in the Field series. Pair this with other intriguing stories of real-world science, at

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Have you ever seen dolphins in the wild or in a aquarium?
•  Where do you think shark bay is?

•  thrum (pg 1) - to repeat (something) monotonously
•  channel (pg 2) - A broad strait, especially one that connects two seas.
•  primate (pg 9) - A mammal of the order Primates, which includes the anthropoids and prosimians, characterized by refined development of the hands and feet, a shortened snout, and a large brain.
•  controversy (pg 12) - A dispute, especially a public one, between sides holding opposing views.
•  evasive (pg 17) - Intentionally vague or ambiguous; equivocal: an evasive statement.
•  maneuver (pg 17) - A movement or procedure involving skill and dexterity.
•  evolution (pg 19) - A gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form.
•  echolocation - A sensory system in certain animals, such as bats and dolphins, in which usually high-pitched sounds are emitted and their echoes interpreted to determine the direction and distance of objects.
•  apprenticeship (pg 29) - One who is learning a trade or occupation; A beginner; a learner.
•  hypothesis (pg 38) - A tentative explanation for an observation, phenomenon, or scientific problem that can be tested by further investigation.
•  alliances (pg 42) - A formal agreement establishing such an association, especially an international treaty of friendship with common interests.
•  precautions (pg 44) - An action taken in advance to protect against possible danger, failure, or injury; a safeguard: followed safety precautions when using heavy machinery.

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Where is Shark Bay?
•  What kind of dolphins are they studying?
•  What are some thinkgs that dolphins can do that make them smarter than other animals?
•  What tool do the dolphins use?
•  How long does it take a newborn dolphin to master graceful breathing technique?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a dolphin scene. Cut out waves for the bottom of the picture and dolphins jumping out of the waves.

Special activities:
•  Watch a dolphin video on phone, if you have it available.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!