Alejandro Acevedo-Gutiérrez, one of the scientists featured in Dolphins, is particularly dedicated to providing an opportunity for children to learn about dolphins and their environment. "When I was young, I was fascinated by nature specials on marine life," says Acevedo. "I remember wishing that I could meet those scientists--a close encounter rather than a distant one. I credit such experiences as important in shaping my goals in life. I know that many children will be deeply touched by this film, and some, like me, will make science their career."
As a scientist, Acevedo believes he is obligated to generate new information and share that information. In Dolphins, he works closely with Kathleen Dudzinski and Bernd Würsig, his Ph.D. advisor, conducting research on the behavioral ecology of marine vertebrates: their foraging strategies, group structure, mating systems, and interspecific interactions with other species.
As we witness in Dolphins, Acevedo focused his research in Patagonia on the dusky dolphins' feeding technique of herding of anchovies into a tightly spinning "bait ball." The herding dolphins doing the herding signal to other dolphins—with their leaps in the air and with squawks and whistles.
Raised in Mexico City, Acevedo received his Licenciatura en Biologia Marina (equivalent to a B.S. in marine biology) at Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur, and came to the United States to complete his graduate studies at Texas A&M in 1989. In September 1997, Acevedo successfully defended his doctoral dissertation on the feeding behavior of dolphins and their interactions with sharks.
Through his work, Acevedo introduces the general public to scientific field research, specifically marine biology and the fascinating life of marine mammals, fish, and birds, while at the same time offering a view of the ecology and beauty of different, and often remote, locations.
Acevedo's ultimate message? Although science is an exhausting and arduous profession, it is also an exciting, enriching and rewarding endeavor. And through Dolphins, more people will get the opportunity to hear his message.
Getting up close and personal with Alejandro:
Lives with: a mountain bike, a harmonica, a guitar.
Typical exclamation: "Awesome!"
Physical attributes: gentle, bear-like, graceful one moment, a stumbling klutz the next.
Writes poetry: "only for love."
Least favorite college course: one he called "mass extinction" in which students collected and killed "specimens."
Scar on nose is from: attempting to smell a poisonous sea anemone during mass extinction class.
Attitude toward people with unscientific ideas about dolphins: "If someone says a dolphin cured their arthritis, who am I to tell them that's impossible."