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In the beginning of her study of sea mammals, Morton focused on the bottle-nose dolphins, under the direction of Dr. John Lilly, a pioneer in the field. Lilly became a mentor and friend to Alexandra, allowing her access to his vast files on dolphin behavior; she was the only person to whom he ever granted this honor. Soon she became interested in orcas (which are believed to have a higher intelligence than dolphins). She studied them in captivity, attempting to decode their language.
After logging hundreds of hours observing whale behavior in captivity through photographs and tape recordings, she realized her next step was to study them in their natural habitat. She spent the summer of 1979 in Canada studying whales in the wild. The next summer, she met underwater photographer Robin Morton, a long, tall, cool sip of water with whom she fell madly, wildly, deeply in love.