Director, Dolphin Communication Project
Dr. Kathleen Dudzinski has been studying dolphin behavior and communication since 1990, with a focus on tactile, behavioral and acoustic signals employed by dolphins as they share information with each other and across groups. Dr. Dudzinski is Founder and Director of the Dolphin Communication Project (DCP). Her current research focuses on two groups of dolphins in managed care – at the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS) in Honduras and at Blue Lagoon Island, home of Dolphin Encounters (DE), on Nassau, The Bahamas. Dr. Dudzinski oversees research conducted by graduate students from several universities who collaborate with DCP. Students either access DCP’s 20 year data archive or sometimes collect their own data at one of DCP’s field sites. Student theses/dissertations often focus on the behavior, acoustics, communication, and cognition among and between dolphins at DCP’s study sites. Those sites include five locations around the globe: two wild dolphin populations near (Atlantic spotted dolphins) Bimini, The Bahamas and (Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins) Mikura Island , Japan and three groups of dolphins in human care (all three are bottlenose dolphins) at the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS), Anthony’s Key Resort, Roatan, Honduras, at Dolphin Encounters at Blue Lagoon Island, Nassau, The Bahamas, and at Zoo Duisburg, Duisburg, Germany.
In 2000, Dr Dudzinski’s work studying dolphins was featured in the large-format film DOLPHINS from MacGillivray Freeman Films (2000) for IMAX theaters. In the same year, her first book for children, Meeting Dolphins My Adventures in the Sea, was published by National Geographic Books. Since then, Dr. Dudzinski has also consulted on several documentary films (e.g., BBC/NOVA’s Inside the Animal Mind), magazine articles and other projects. Her work was featured in a twelve-part, after-school adventure series for children through Immersion Presents and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. She has been interviewed for numerous periodicals, for KOL, by the Girls Scouts and by NECN, among others. Dr. Dudzinski’s second book, co-authored with Dr. Toni Frohoff, on dolphin communication was published by Yale University Press in fall 2008: Dolphin Mysteries: Unlocking the secrets of communication.
Dr. Dudzinski is available for speaking engagements with a roster of presentation topics including dolphin communication, eavesdropping on dolphins: what we are learning about how dolphins communicate, getting started with a career in marine science focused on marine mammals, behavior, and more. Dr. Dudzinski is also available for consultation in areas related to applying the current knowledge of dolphin social behavior and communication to marine mammal habitat development, acoustic monitoring for mitigation or assessment, science-standard curriculum development, textbook curriculum development, and more.
Dr. Kathleen Dudzinski attended The University of Connecticut, graduating as University Scholar with a B.S. in the Biological Sciences in 1989. She completed and was awarded her doctorate in Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences with a focus on dolphin communication and behavior in August, 1996. Her first experience related to marine mammals was as an intern with the Atlantic Cetacean Research Center in the Summer of 1987. She was awarded a National Science Foundation Three-Year Pre-doctoral Fellowship in 1990, and began graduate studies with Dr. Bernd Würsig and the Marine Mammal Research Program at Texas A&M University in September of the same year. During her graduate program, Dr. Dudzinski studied communication between Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) in Bahamian waters: her focus was on contact behavior and signal exchange among dolphins. Her graduate studies were partially funded by Oceanic Society Expeditions following an eco-tour format. During her graduate school tenure, Dr. Dudzinski also assisted with, or conducted research on bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.) in the Gulf of Mexico, Belize, Japan, and in two Dolphinaria in Europe (Kolmårdens Djurpark, Sweden and Nürnberg Zoo, Germany).
With guidance from Dr.’s Bernd Würsig and Christopher Clark (Bioacoustics Research Program, Cornell University), Dr. Dudzinski designed and built a new system for simultaneously recording the behavior and vocalizations of dolphins underwater. For this work, she received the Fairfield Memorial Award for Innovative Research at the Tenth Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Galveston, Texas, in December, 1993. With David Goodson and Darryl Newborough in 1997, Dudzinski added an echolocation click detector to this mobile recording system to capture and document information on dolphin echolocation signals.
From September 1997 to 2000, Dr. Dudzinski studied signal exchange and contact behavior between individuals in a human-habituated group of bottlenose dolphins that inhabit the waters around Mikura-jima, Japan. She was funded on a post-doctoral fellowship through the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science, and was hosted by Yoshioka-sensei of Mie University.
In 2002, Dr. Dudzinski became an Adjunct Faculty member in Psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi and in Animal Science at the University of Rhode Island. From 2009 to 2013, Dr. Dudzinski was a visiting associate professor in Biology and Botany to teach animal behavior and three different seminar courses related to marine mammals and ecology. With In collaboration with colleagues at these and other universities, Dr. Dudzinski continues to advise two to three graduate students focused on studying various aspects of dolphin science, especially behavior and acoustics.
Dr. Dudzinski’s main focus is understanding how dolphins in varied habitats (including captive and wild) share information with the goal of conducting comparative research into signal exchange.
On a more personal note, Dr. Dudzinski is proudly entering her 15th year of marriage to her best friend, John , a photographer and cameraman. While their wedding ceremony was blanketed by a holiday blizzard, and they lived in Connecticut for a decade, both Kathleen and John recently decided water skiing was preferable to snow skiing! They moved to Florida late 2014 and enjoy spending warm late afternoons on walks with Dixie, their three-year old beagle.