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Hawaiian Dolphins
Hawaiian name: Nai’a

About Hawai'i's Dolphins
   > Spinner dolphins
   > Spotted dolphins
   > Bottlenose dolphins

How HWF works to help Dolphins
   > Supports dolphin research projects
   > Educates people about dolphins

The Hawaiian spinner dolphin is nocturnal, resting 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 fish.

· 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 year about dolphin ecology, threats to the marine environment and respectful wildlife watching guidelines, including the following.

  • 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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Hawai'i's 5 Species
of Sea Turtles
Spinner dolphin - photo by Suzanne Canja
Spinner dolphin
Spotted dolphins - photo by Suzanne Canja
Spotted dolphins
Bottlenose dolphin - photo by Carrie Robertson
Bottlenose dolphin
Bottlenose alongside a boat - photo by Suzanne Canja
Bottlenose dolphin
Dolphin over under - photo by Suzanne Canja
Spotted dolphins
Bottlenose smiling - photo by Suzanne Canja
Bottlenose leaping - photo by Suzanne Canja
Bottlenose dolphins
Hawai'i Wildlife Fund    •   PO Box 790637 Paia, HI 96779   •   808.280.8124    •   •
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