Dolphins are hyper-intelligent animals. They are highly adaptable, can use tools, understand language, pass down traditions from one generation to the next, and are capable of self-recognition. These are just a few of the traits of the fascinating creatures that today’s guest, Maddalena Bearzi, has dedicated her life to studying and protecting. Maddalena has a Ph.D. in biology, where her research focused on the behavioral ecology of marine mammals in Santa Monica Bay. She is also Co-Founder and President of the Ocean Conservation Society, an author, and a photojournalist. In this episode, Maddalena talks about her journey as a marine biologist and how she came to study dolphins. As someone who has always been drawn to animals, the complex societies of dolphins captivated Maddalena. We discuss the process of finding and tracking these animals, the specific challenges that come with studying them, and why our current knowledge is only scratching the surface. Although Maddalena is a trained scientist, she has dedicated much of her time to conservation, and we hear about her choice to do so. There are so many interconnected threats to our oceans and all the creatures that live in them that we need more decisive, swift action if we are to save this ecosystem. Maddalena is paving the way for change, and we are sure she will inspire you to do to the same.
Key Points From This Episode:
- Hear about Maddalena’s professional journey and how she ended up studying dolphins.
- The impetus for founding Ocean Conservation Society and the organization’s mission.
- What sparked Maddalena’s interest in dolphins and how her brother’s work inspired her.
- Why you are more likely to find dolphins in contaminated water.
- Dolphin’s dorsal fins work the same way as human fingerprints and can be used to track migration patterns.
- How to find dolphins and the work it takes to understand why they have chosen to be in a certain area.
- Great apes versus dolphins: challenges that come with studying these sea creatures.
- Misconceptions about being a marine biologist; it’s all work at the end of the day.
- Each dolphin society is so distinct and uses its environment so differently.
- Maddalena shares some examples of dolphins displaying their intelligence.
- What motivated Maddalena to work more on the conservation side of things.
- The incredible story where Maddalena saw dolphins saving a suicidal woman’s life.
- Evidence to show that dolphins are good at recognizing boats.
- The biggest risks that dolphins and ocean creatures face and why they are so hard to solve.
- Why we need better education and more people involved in protecting the oceans.
- Maddalena’s creative projects and why she encourages people not to visit aquariums.
“Dolphins are extremely fascinating animals. The more you learn about them, the more you discover how similar they are to us.” — Maddalena Bearzi [0:04:26]
“I’ve studied dolphins of California for over 20 years and I’m just starting to scratch the surface of what I know.” — Maddalena Bearzi [0:11:27]
They use their intelligence to resolve problems, and the problems they need to resolve in water are very different to the problems we need to solve on land.” “— Maddalena Bearzi [0:25:12]
“We need to act now to protect the ocean and these magnificent creatures or they won’t be around much longer.” — Maddalena Bearzi [0:33:22]
“All of us need to take responsibility and do something more to protect the only planet we have.” — Maddalena Bearzi [0:52:35]
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode: