Label: Dolphins

February 18, 2013

Tourists on a whale watching boat off the coast of California saw a rare sight this week. Their boat followed thousands of dolphins in a superpod that the captain estimated was seven miles (11 kilometers) long and five miles (8 kilometers) wide. The ship’s captain estimated there were 100,000 dolphins.

Of course, we know that dolphins are highly social animals, living in pods of as many as a dozen dolphins. Sometimes, especially when there is a lot of food in the area, pods come together into superpods. That appears to be what happened here.

Can you imagine all the talking with that many dolphins together? I would love to have seen (and heard) that sight!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(5) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Animals, Oceans, Dolphins   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 25, 2013

When a dolphin needed help off the coast of Hawaii, he swam right up to a scuba instructor and let him know.

Keller Laros was leading a group of divers on a tour off the coast of Kona, Hawaii, last week.  "All of a sudden I heard a loud squeak, and I turned around, and the dolphin was literally three feet behind me," Laros said. "He swam right up to me."

The diving instructor could tell that something was wrong, and looking more closely, he saw that there was a fishing line hooked onto his fin.

"I said, ‘come here,’ and he swam right up to me," he said. "I put my hand out and I tried to get the fishing hook out of his left pectoral fin." But the animal was having trouble swimming because his fin was still tangled up in the fishing line. The 10-foot long dolphin - almost twice as long as his rescuer was tall - waited patiently while Laros rummaged through the dive tools that he carries in his suit, pulling out a pair of small scissors.

He was able to clip the line off of the dolphin’s mouth and fin, but there was still a little left. They waited while the dolphin went up for a breath of air and came back down. Then Laros and another dive guide removed as much line from under the fin as they could. 

"I guess the dolphin was happy with our work. He swam away and we never saw him again," he said. "It’s a huge thrill to be able to help an animal that clearly knows what’s going on," he said. "He made the effort to come to us… The dolphin is really intelligent. It’s a relationship. He came to us because he had a problem." 

One of the divers in the class that Laros was teaching had a video camera and filmed the whole interaction. Here it is for you to see. Isn’t that a magnificent moment between two intelligent mammals?


Video courtesy of Jack’s Diving Locker, Kona, Hawaii 




Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Animals, Dolphins, Video   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 3, 2012


Brazilian scientists have been studying a small fishing community in Laguna, Brazil, where fishermen work together with dolphins to catch their fish.

This friendly pod of dolphins works together, herding groups of mullet (a local fish) toward the fisherman who are waiting in boats or standing in the water. Then the dolphins slap their heads or tails on the water to show the fishermen where to throw their nets.  Both groups, the fishermen and the dolphins, catch all the fish they need by working together in this way.

What is most surprising is that It is one special group of about twenty dolphins that work with the fishermen, and they have been doing it for more than fifteen years. The men recognize them by their markings, and have even given some of them names like "Scooby" and "Caroba." There are plenty of other dolphins in the waters around Laguna. The others do not cooperate with humans, going off to fish on their own.

The cooperation behavior is probably passed down from mother dolphin to her calves, and that is how it is learned by the humans, as well. Elders in the community teach the younger fishermen how to work with the dolphins.


Photo:  Fábio Daura-Jorge

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Oceans, Dolphins, Fish   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 5, 2012

Students in Springfield, Illinois and their teachers are preparing for my visit next week. They sent me a number of questions which I decided to answer here, so that everyone can read.

Tommy W. asked: Have you ever been diving before?

(SS) Yes, I used to love scuba diving, seeing the fish and collecting shells. It is an amazing world under the sea! In fact, my next book, which is coming out this summer, is about CORAL REEFS. 

Izzy wants to know: How many dolphins are there in the world?

(SS) This is a hard question to answer, since there are at least 45 different dolphin species, and they live all over the world. Some species are declining or endangered, other species are growing and doing well. Scientists estimate that there are about 170-million dolphins currently living on Earth. You can learn a lot more about dolphins in my book about these magnificent creatures.

Tyler C’s question: How long have you been a discovering all this knowledge? (SS) I have loved nature since I was a little kid. Although I grew up in the Bronx - a very crowded part of New York City - the natural world was all around me. There is weather in the city, just as there is in the country. You can see the sun, moon and stars from a rooftop in the city. And I explored a vacant lot on my street, which wasn’t exactly a park, but still had birds, earthworms, small plants, and trees. In fact, when I grew up one of the first books I wrote was called SCIENCE IN A VACANT LOT.

Maddie R.: How do you get all of the pictures in your books? Have you ever
been bitten?
 Sydnee wondered much the same thing: How do you take pictures of sharks without getting bitten?


(SS) I am asked this a lot because photographs are such a big part of telling the stories in my books. Sometimes I travel to places myself and take the photographs. I have photographed glaciers in Alaska, volcanoes in Hawaii and wildfires in California. Other times, I arrange to use other people’s photographs. 

Often these kinds of photographs are taken by the biologists who study the animals because they are with them so often, and have many opportunities to catch just the "right moment" on film. 

These photographers also use very specialized camera equipment, so that they can photograph a dangerous animal from a safe distance, even though the photograph looks as though they are very close by. This distance keeps them from startling the animal, provoking an attack or scaring it away.

Thanks for writing everybody. Although I am happy to answer your questions, I am really more interested in hearing your thoughts about science, nature and fascinating animals. Please come on my Seymour Science blog regularly and use "comments" to tell me what you are discovering as you are reading here.

I am looking forward to meeting you all very soon!

READERS: Are you wondering how to add your own "comment" to this blog? Click here for exact directions on how to add a comment so you can become one of our Seymour Science writers! We also want you to be safe and not share too much information when you write on this blog, so please take a minute to read about how to stay safe on the Internet. We love to hear from you, so give "comments" a try! 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(10) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Sharks, Author Study, Kids Write, Dolphins, Seymour Simon, Photography   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 25, 2011

I very much enjoyed my Skype session this morning with some of the students at Cavallini Middle School in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. They have been studying non-fiction writing, and 20 students were well-prepared with good questions. Nice job, and a great way to start my day!

I thought I’d share one of the answers with you. A student asked me: if I had not become a writer, what would I have done?


Thinking back to my studies, I always loved science. I fell in love with space first, and then animals. In college, I studied Behavioral Psychology, which is really the study of animal behaviors. If I had it to do all over again, I think I would have become a marine biologist. This is probably why I have written so many books about whales, sharks, dolphins, and even keeping saltwater aquariums!


I like doing Skype sessions because they allow me to connect with more students. I get many more requests for school visits than I can accept, as I need to spend at least some time at my desk, researching and writing books! If you are interested in booking me for a Skype session with your school, click on this link on my website to put in your request.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Becoming a writer, School Visits, Sharks, Oceans, Dolphins, Kids comments   •  Permalink (link to this article)

July 23, 2010

We visited Cape May, New Jersey for a couple of days this week. I love to get out on the beach first thing in the morning, when it’s uncrowded and the marine life is feeding. We spotted a large pod of dolphins swimming less than 200 yards off shore both mornings.


Cape May - the southernmost tip of New Jersey - is a favorite destination not only for human tourists, but also for a pod of an estimated 2500 dolphins who summer there each year! You don’t need to book a "whale watch" tour. If you are vacationing at the ocean, just get out on the beach at dawn or dusk and watch the surf. You’ll be amazed at all the animal life  - birds, fish, mollusks, dolphins, seals - that you can see if you just take the time to look.


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: Oceans, Dolphins, Summer Vacation Science, Seymour Photographs, whale watch   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 1, 2009


Posted by: Seymour Simon

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July 14, 2009

In this article from the latest issue of Wired Magazine, researchers describe how some humans are learning to move around by using their ears, rather than their eyes, to know where they are going.

Make Like a Dolphin: Learn Echolocation | Wired Science |

Do you think YOU could move around in your world the way a dolphin does in water?


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(13) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Dolphins   •  Permalink (link to this article)

June 1, 2009

Doing an experiment with a child helps them learn about science. To learn new things, you have to build upon what you already know. In everyday interactions with children, there are many things you can try without lecturing or applying pressures to help them learn science. Of course,  you can’t experiment with a dolphin but here are a few ideas that will help you learn about how dolphins survive in the sea.

1.  How long can you hold your breath? Compare that to how long a dolphin can hold its breath underwater.

2. Do sounds travel underwater? Can you hear sounds when you are swimming? Have you ever played a game where you and a friend make sounds and "talk" underwater,  and try to understand each other?

3. Which freezes more quickly: freshwater or ocean water? Fill two plastic cups halfway, one with freshwater and the other with salty water. Put them in the freezer and check them every ten minutes to see which freezes first. How do the results help to explain why dolphins don’t live in freshwater lakes in places that get very cold in winter?

4. Dolphins dive deep under the water where the water pressure is very great. In the sea,  pressure increases with water depth. Here’s how you can demonstrate that pressure increases with depth. You will need a large, empty tin can, a hammer, a large nail, water, salt, a ruler and a basin or a sink.  Use the hammer and a nail to make three holes, one above the other and each two inches apart in the side of the can. Stand the can on the side of the basin or sink and fill with water. Measure the distance the water spurts out from each of the holes. Try it again with salty water.

a.  Which spurts out further? Why? Remember that the weight of the water is greater over the bottom hole than over the top hole. The heavier the water above, the greater is the water pressure below. At sea level, air pressure is a bit less than 15 pounds per square inch. At 300 feet, the water pressure is about 150 pounds per square inch.

b.  Could humans survive at that pressure without protection? Do research to find out how dolphins survive the pressure of deep waters.

Click on this for Dolphins FAQs 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Dolphins, Summer Vacation Science, Science Projects   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 31, 2009

What’s so interesting about dolphins?

  A while ago, I read a science fiction story about an ocean planet populated with intelligent water mammals such as whales and dolphins. The ocean animals of this planet even explored beyond their planet in spaceships filled with ocean water. And who were the leaders and the smartest sea life on the ocean planet? Dolphins, naturally.

  What makes dolphins so smart? Why their brains of course. Dolphins have very large brains in relation to their body size. In fact, bottlenose dolphins rank second only to humans in the ratio of their brain size to body size. Just how intelligent on the dolphins that live on our planet Earth? Nobody really knows the exact answer to this question (or at least no one on Earth knows), but researchers are finding out that dolphins can and do communicate with each other and that they can even solve some puzzles and problems.

  All of this is interesting, but the real reason I wrote a book about dolphins is that they are beautiful and fascinating to watch at sea and even in large public aquariums.  And like with most of the books I write, even after the book is published I still am finding out new things which I wish I had put in the book. Do you know things about dolphins or have you taken pictures or video of dolphins that you would like to share with readers of Seymour Science?  Send an email to Seymour Science  and tell me all about it so I can post your note on my site.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Animal Books, Dolphins, Video   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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