The Hawaiian spinner dolphin is
near shore at day.
About Hawai'i's Dolphins
Three species of dolphins are commonly seen in Hawaii's near shore
waters: spinner, bottlenose and spotted.
· Spinner Dolphins
Spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) are the species most commonly enjoyed by visitors
because they frequent regular near shore areas during the daytime to
rest after nocturnal forages in deeper water for food. This small,
long-beaked dolphin can "spin" or revolve around its longitudinal
axis as many as six times on one leap out of the water. They are
found in resident pods around all of the main islands, resting in
shallow bays in the day and hunting at night for small schooling
· Spotted Dolphins
Spotted dolphins (Stenella attenuataare) easily confused with spinners; they are closely
related and look very similar. However, the end of the rostrum or
"beak" is white-tipped and mature animals have a spotted color
pattern on the body. Spotted dolphins are usually seen in the
channels between the islands and do not rest near shore.
Both spotted and spinner dolphins travel in schools from small
numbers up to hundreds, and they are the two species caught in tuna
nets in the eastern Pacific.
· Bottlenose Dolphins
Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)are distinguishable from spotted and spinner
dolphins by their much larger size, their uniformly gray coloration
and their thicker, blunter rostrum. They are usually seen in smaller
pods or groups of less than 10 individuals.
Intelligent and high up on the oceanic food chain, dolphins are found
to engage in playful activities including bow riding where they surf
in front of a boat or even a whale's bow wave.
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How HWF works to help Hawaiian Dolphins
· Supports dolphin research projects
HWF has collaborated with whale researcher Robin Baird. His research has contributed to the understanding of dolphin population dynamics and
distribution in Hawai'i. Dr. Baird has investigated the diving behaviors of
false killer whales, humpback whales and spotted dolphins. He has
documented the inter-island movements of spinner dolphins, and
determined population sizes of bottlenose dolphins.
· Educates people about dolphins
HWF naturalists teach thousands of island residents and visitors each
dolphin ecology, threats to the marine environment and respectful
wildlife watching guidelines, including the following.
MORE > REEF USE GUIDELINES
- Never feed dolphins, this encourages them to accept foreign and
potentially dangerous objects.
- Observe dolphins from a distance, never chase them.
- Help keep the ocean clean, and pick up floating trash.
- Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, it is an offence to disturb
or harass any marine mammal.
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