Subject: Echolocation information

Patrick Miller (
Wed, 22 Jan 1997 18:19:04 -0500

>Hi, my daughter (age 11) watched a demo of echo location at
>MarineWorld Africa this summer and became absolutely enthralled
>with the bottle nose dolphins.  She wants to do her science project
>on echo location (Which species, how it works, etc.)  She has started
>her research phase and is a little stumped/overwhelmed.  I'm excited
>since I want to see her do a better project than the standard "spit on
>something and see what grows" (I've been a science fair judge for years
>:-) ).
>Do you have any good resources for a 5th grader (with more adv. reading
>Please email to:
>Sarah McGrew
>Tricia McGrew


Dear Sarah,

I have been doing some looking around for some research materials
that would be good for younger people about echolocation in dolphins.
One book that has a nice description and diagram of how dolphins
echolocate is by a woman named Nathalie Ward. The full citation for
this book is:

Ward, Nathalie. 1995. Stellwagen Bank: a guide to the whales and
sea birds of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Down
East Books, Camden, Maine.

This book also deals with many other topics about whales and dolphins,
you could see if it is available at the library.

I don't know of many other books that are aimed for school kids;
however, there are several books on marine mammals in general. Often
such books devote an entire chapter to whale and dolphin communication
and echolocation, so you might want to try to find some general books
on marine mammals, and look to see whether they have a chapter on
sounds. There is a very good book on echolocation that researchers
use a lot, but which is pretty complicated reading, and has much more
detailed information than you probably need. However, it might be
useful in case you have trouble finding answers to particular questions,
in which case someone like your mom might be able to help you find
the information in it. The citation for this book is:

Au, W.L. Whitlow. 1993. The Sonar of Dolphins. Springer-Verlag,
New York, New York.

Good luck with your project!

                                yours in whale research,

                                        - Patrick