Shark Bay is simply the best place in the world to learn about dolphin intelligence in the wild. The proof of that is found in the pages of Dolphin Politics in Shark Bay: A Journey of Discovery, but especially in our scientific publications. If you really want to know if a research group is doing bonafide science, look at their publications. We have published in top scientific journals such as Nature, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, The Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Current Biology, Biology Letters. For a complete list of publications by our team, visit our main website: http://www.sharkbaydolphins.org/publications/
Why is Shark Bay so exceptional? It begins with the largest seagrass beds in the world. The seagrass beds are the foundation for everything; they support the incredible abundance of life, including fish, sea turtles, dugongs and, of course, dolphins! The large number of dolphins in Shark Bay is why we so see much incredible social behavior and why the dolphin politics are more complex than in any other known population. The more dolphins there are in an area, they more they interact and the more they interact the more complex their society will be.
The ecology of Shark Bay, which includes temperate and tropical species of plants and animals, varies from location to location. This variation in local ecology, we have discovered, leads to variation in dolphin feeding innovations and politics!
When it comes down to the basics of simply watching dolphins, a constellation of factors conspire to make Shark Bay a remarkable place for humans to observe dolphins. The water is relatively clear, with an absence of ocean swell, so on calm days the bay turns into a sheet of glass and you feel like you are floating on an aquarium. The dolphins themselves travel around in manageably small groups and generally move quite slowly, so they are much easier to watch and follow than in many other populations. Finally, even our dolphins' dorsal fins are easier to identify than in most other populations because they not only have plenty of nicks and scars, the Shark Bay dolphins exhibit tremendous variation in fin shape. The combination of scars and shape creates a wonderful gestalt that allows human observers to quickly learn to identify a large number of individual dolphins.