Spinner Dolphins

spinner dolphin
Photo © Doug Hackett

Kealakekua Bay is frequented almost daily by pods of Spinner Dolphins. While it is not unusual to encounter them while swimming or kayaking, we ask you to be aware of the information on this page.


Dolphin Etiquette

Adapted from
"How To Swim With Dolphins: A Guide To Being"
by
Terry Walker

Habitat

Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins are nocturnal offshore feeders and use our sheltered bays and shorelines as daytime resting, mating, and playing areas. Please honor their use of this protected habitat and behave as a respectful guest visiting the dolphin's home.

Regulation and Protection

Dolphins, and all marine mammals, are protected from harassment by federal law; the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Harassment means "any act of pursuit or annoyance which has the potential to disturb the dolphins in the wild by causing disruption of their behavioral patterns of migration, nursing, breeding, sheltering or resting/sleeping."

The Hawaii DLNR (Dept. of Land and Natural Resources) and NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service) recommend that swimmers and boaters remain at least 50 yards away from the dolphins.

Guidelines

If you should encounter the wild dolphins whilst swimming or kayaking in Kealakekua Bay, please observe the following guidelines for being a respectful visitor in their home.

spinner dolphin
Photo © Doug Hackett

bullet

Allow the pod to approach you.

They will initiate interaction if they want to.

bullet

Be aware and sensitive to Dolphins behavior.

Dolphins have moods like we do. Sometimes they are sociable and sometimes not. Take your cue from their behavior. Respect their habitat. Honor their space and behavioral mode. If they are resting or traveling, please respect that they may choose not to interact with you.

bullet

Consider your own timing.

Many times there are too few dolphins and too many people in the water. It may be better to enter the water at a later time when the water is less crowded. If the dolphins have given you quality time and have turned somewhere else, honor that and thank them for the time you have had. Avoid pursuing them.

bullet

Swim with your arms at your side.

Sudden arm movements, chasing after, or reaching toward them will frighten or startle them and they will move away. Don't try to touch them. Allow them to be wild and free.

bullet

Be mindful of other swimmers.

Watch where you are going. Try not to cut in front of others in your eagerness to get close. If you see someone swimming alone in an intimate communication with the dolphins, don't interrupt. It is as rude in the water as it is on land.

bullet

Leave foreign objects ashore.

This includes things such as string leis, plastics, bags, rope, and play toys which can be harmful to marine mammals and sea life.

bullet

Trust in nature's food supply.

To attempt to feed wild dolphins is detrimental to their health as well as their social behavior.

bullet

Honor your limits.

If the water is too rough or too deep, or the dolphins are too far out, don't go swimming. If you are worried or afraid about going out, don't go. Your safety is the number one priority.

bullet

Be slow and cautious when approaching by boat or kayak.

Go slowly and quietly, and watch for swimmers. Use focused attention so is not to disturb or change the course of the dolphins behavior.

"How To Swim With Dolphins: A Guide To Being"
by Terry Walker
DolphinHeart.com