As the lead science advisor for Dolphins, Bernd Würsig helped guide the research and development of the film. Würsig, who has studied dolphins for more than 20 years, conducted the pioneering work on dusky dolphins in the 1970s in the waters of the Atlantic, off the southern coast of Argentina in Patagonia—a marine biologist's fantasy research lab, and one of the locations chosen for Dolphins.
Würsig is Professor of Marine Mammalogy, Director of the Marine Mammal Research Program, and Co-Director of the Institute of Marine Life Sciences at Texas A&M University. He researches the behavior and ecology of cetaceans and their interactions with birds, fish, and marine invertebrates; movement and migration patterns of dolphins and whales; marine mammals as partial indicators of ecosystem status; natural history and ecology of mammals; and use of research in formulating conservation/management strategies and policy. Würsig has authored 56 peer-reviewed papers, 35 articles for the public, and numerous reports in the fields of behavior, behavioral ecology, social systems, and conservation biology. He has also coproduced, narrated, or advised on 11 films since 1976.
Early on in his research, Würsig preferred to work with dolphins in the wild. He was the first to discover one of the reasons dolphins leap. He realized that they were actually looking for food. By leaping high, dolphins can see farther, thereby locating their prey by seeing flocks of birds feeding on schooling fish sometimes miles away.
Returning to Patagonia to film Dolphins was a way for the film's scientists, Kathleen Dudzinski and Alejandro Acevedo, to honor Würsig. Not only was he their senior Ph.D. advisor, but his pioneering work has become the foundation upon which other scientists in the field have built. In Dolphins, these three scientists work together as peers.Getting up close and personal with Bernd:
Lives with: his wife and collaborator, Melany, and son, Paul.
Embarrassing moment: almost licking plate in college dorm.
Typical exclamation: "yep, yep, uh-huh, yep," or, "woof woof."
Startling fact: never saw the sea until he was 19 years old.
Most likable feature: frequent and infectious laughter.
Fondest memory: studying dolphins in Patagonia with wife Melany 25 years ago.
Reaction when his former students, Kathleen and Alejandro, visited his old Patagonian study site: tears of pride.
Most transparent lie: "I'm not really a very emotional guy."