Welcome to The Wild Dolphin Project

The Wild Dolphin Project is a non-profit scientific research organization that studies and reports on a specific pod of free ranging Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis). Since 1985, Denise Herzing has been studying dolphin communication in the wild. Objectives of this long-term, non-invasive field research on wild dolphins are to gather information on the natural history of these dolphins, including dolphin behaviors, social structure, dolphin communication, and habitat; and to report what we have learned to the scientific community and the general public.

A Wild Celebration!

Join us to celebrate 30 years of work in the wild with wild dolphins!  For more details about this weekend event, click here.

WDP Feature: Dolphin Vocalization


In this photo, a young spotted dolphin emits bubbles from her blowhole as she whistles.

Dolphin vocalizations have been generally broken down into 2 functional categories: echolocation for orientation, locating prey and navigation and whistles and burst-pulsed vocalizations for social signals.

Dr. Herzing has studied many aspects of dolphin communication and behavior by collecting underwater video and acoustic data.  Whistles (often accompanied by bubbles) are primarily used for communication and a signature whistle is a whistle specific to an individual. 

More specifically, Dr. Herzing has found that whistles are predominantly heard in 4 different behavioral contexts including (1) mother/calf reunions (2) when older dolphins produce their own signature whistle prior the retrieval of a younger dolphin (3) during mating behavior, males and females will repeatedly use their signature whistle and (4) individual separation from the group – when separated from the group a solitary dolphin will rotate their head while emitting their signature whistle.

Other vocalizations include squawks, screams, and barks which are used in various situations including aggression or excitement. To read more about dolphin vocalizations, check out our Scientific Publications page.

Brian Skerry’s National Geographic Proof


During the summer of 2013, award-winning photographer Brian Skerry joined the Wild Dolphin Project to photograph Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) for an article by National Geographic Magazine on dolphin intelligence.  Check out his proof or read more information on our blog about his time on board R/V Stenella.

Photo (left): This is Nassau with her own calf, a young male named Nautilus.  This photo was taken 20 years after Nassau was featured in the September 1992 cover of National Geographic as a calf, with her mother Nippy.


Happy New Year!  Celebrate With New WDP Membership Perks!

Interested in a boat ride?  Have you ever seen a dolphin off the Florida coast?  On December 1, 2014, the Wild Dolphin Project started offering new perks to our members.  A basic membership is $35.  As a member you get a free coffee table book from Dr. Denise Herzing, a newsletter, and first priority when signing up for summer trips!

Becoming a member or renewing your membership is easy.  Every little bit helps!  Whether you are looking to possibly participant onboard R/V Stenella or just stay updated on the project, our research, and upcoming events, a WDP membership will benefit you.

We encourage you to visit our Membership page to view all of the new perks with becoming a member or renewing your membership.  We also have a PDF with all of the benefits listed for each membership level.