You may wonder what types of marine life and animals you might see on your upcoming Hawaiian boat excursion.  Well, we are here to tell you marine life in Hawaii is as abundant as it is unpredictable!  Every day is different on the ocean, which makes it very special and magical.  We often see Hawaiian green sea turtles, lots of colorful tropical coral and fish, and in season – majestic humpback whales!  Our favorite ones of all are the dolphins! Main reason for that is because, unlike most of the marine life that does not want to have much to do with us, dolphins are quite the opposite.  They are very social with people and they are famous for their incredible maneuver of bow riding or surfing the wave created by the boats.  It is truly amazing to watch the precision of their movement as they easily navigate around the bow of the boat at various speeds and angles.   Watch this video to see Hawaiian Spinner dolphins bow riding the Sea Monkey wave.

Types of Dolphins in Hawaii

Hawaii has 3 different types of dolphins: Bottlenose, Spotted, and Spinner dolphins.  These dolphins have many similar characteristics and are often confused.  Here is a quick way to tell them apart:

Bottlenose-Dolphin

Bottlenose Dolphin

Intelligent and high up on oceanic food chain Bottlenose dolphins are the largest of the 3. Adult bottlenose dolphins have a length ranging from 10 to 14 feet long and weight 330 to 440 pounds! They are known to travel further off shore and are typically seen in smaller groups, usually less than 10 in a pod.  If you are wondering just how intelligent these creatures are – movie Dolphin Tale was based on real life events inspired by an amazing survival of a Bottlenose dolphin named “Winter”.  This inspirational story has impacted many lives; it demonstrates just how amazing and human-like these animals are.

 

Pantropical Spotted Dolphin

Pantropical Spotted Dolphin

Unlike Bottlenose dolphins, Spotted and Spinner dolphins are much smaller in size (5-6 feet) and are generally known for travelling in larger pods, up to several hundred strong!  Spotted dolphins main distinctive characteristic is their white-tipped beak and, as their name suggests, spotted color pattern on the body.

 

Spinner Dolphin

Spinner Dolphin

Spinner dolphins are most frequently seen, as they like to rest in shallow bay areas during the day and hunt at night.  They are known for their incredible acrobatic spins in the air (up to 7 times) as they breach out of the water.  It is debatable why they do it.  Theories range from them trying to rid of parasites to just leaping for joy.  We don’t know exactly why they do it, but if you are ever lucky to see it – just enjoy the show! One of our recent charters was lucky enough not only to witness a show of a lifetime but get kissed by a spinner dolphin!  Watch below to see those wonderful playful creatures approach this family in the most personal way!

 

Can you swim with dolphins?

Absolutely not! As a general rule of a thumb wild life should always be left alone.   There are a variety of ways in which human interaction can hurt dolphins.  For example, in case with Spinner dolphins, it can disrupt their natural sleeping cycle. Believe it or not, they are actually sleeping while on the move with one eye open and half of their brain functioning.  Another side of their brain is shut down, which allows them to rest.  Spinner dolphins are nocturnal; so they need to be awake and alert at night when catching food and keeping away from predators.  Swimming with them during the day could jeopardize that rest and their wellbeing.

 

Life span and reproduction  

Bottlenose Baby Dolphin

Bottlenose Baby Dolphin

Average life span of a Hawaiian dolphin is 20-40 years, with spinner being the shortest of the 3. Their sexual maturity ranges between ages 5-14, depending on the breed.  Dolphins are known for their human-like behavior when it comes to reproduction as well.  Bottlenose dolphins are born often with assistance of a “mid-wife” in shallow water, and mothers nurse their calves for years.

 

What are the best places to see dolphins in Hawaii?

We often see spinner dolphins just outside of the Historic Lahaina Harbor; also near Island of Lanai’, off Ka’anapali Beach, and deeper in the channels.  It is never the same day out in the ocean and marine life can be unpredictable.  Generally, the more time you spend on the water the more you get to see; and Sea Monkey has been fortunate enough to see dolphins often on many of our trips.  Check out our reservation page to get more information on what we offer. Moments of witnessing wild life in its natural environment can be absolutely incredible.  Always remember to be respectful and keep your distance. And if you are lucky enough to be approached by the dolphins – sit and enjoy the show!  You never know you may be lucky enough to be kissed by one of them!

Sources:

http://www.wildhawaii.org/marinelife/dolphins.html

https://www.dolphins-world.com/spinner-dolphin/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinner_dolphin

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bottlenose_dolphin

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