Formerly Listen Edition

Spotted dolphins and spinner dolphins

Image licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


Life Science

Story Length: 5:26
Science Middle School

Spotted Dolphins and Spinner Dolphins

Spotted dolphins and spinner dolphins are often found living with tuna. When people started using large nets to capture tuna in the 1960s, many dolphins were killed as well. Scientists responded by sending “observers” on tuna boats to keep track of the number of dolphins killed. Scientists store samples of different parts of dolphins collected from dolphins killed by the tuna nets. In this public radio story you hear from a scientist who is studying these tissues to try to learn more about these dolphins in order to help preserve dolphin populations.

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This audio is part of the One Species at a Time series hosted by Ari Daniel and produced by Atlantic Public Media and the Encyclopedia of Life, with the support from the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0.

Essential Question

How are collections of dolphin tissues useful for scientists to learn more about dolphins? How did changes in fishing methods put dolphin populations at risk? What have scientists tried to do to reduce the risk?


Students will know and be able to…

  • discuss how tissue samples collected from dolphins killed in tuna nets can be used to help scientists learn about dolphins
  • describe how changes in fishing techniques in the 1960s affected dolphin populations and how fishing techniques were changed to decrease this problem
  • answer questions about dolphin populations by producing and interpreting graphical information