Aloha, welcome to Week 10.
Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins are my favorite photography subjects. Over the years, I’ve taken thousands of dolphin photos, and only after going through each batch do I see what works and what doesn’t. It then takes another week or two to find a pod willing to hang out with me before I can (hopefully) put what I’ve learned to use. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, but always worth the effort. There’s nothing quite like being out in the ocean, usually by myself, surrounded by dozens of dolphins who couldn’t care less that I’m there.
The Hawaiian name for dolphins is Nai`a; the spinners can grow from 5 – 6 feet long and 150 – 175 pounds, with the males being slightly larger than the females. Spinners are smaller and more slender than other types of dolphins in the islands. The average life span is around 20 years for a spinner in the wild. They are night hunters, and generally eat fish, shrimp, and squid. During the night they use echolocation to locate food and avoid predators, mainly sharks.
In the morning, pods of dolphins regroup and head toward shallower bays with sandy bottoms, making it easier to rest and avoid predators. Jumping and spinning is normally seen in the early morning before their rest period, and pods have been observed playing games and frequently touching each other; I have seen dolphins passing a leaf back and forth, also playing what looked like ‘tag.’ They swim in criss-cross patterns, and eventually sleep, but not like we do. Dolphins are able to turn off part of their brain to rest; packed tightly in a group in shallow water, they are able to keep an eye out for boats, sharks, or anything that might do them harm.
A mature female, from 4 – 7 years old, will give birth to one calf per year after a 10 month gestation period. The calf is born tail-first, and drinks milk for close to 2 years, but is also given fish or squid after a few months.
Spinner Dolphins are one of 43 species of dolphins found in the world. Many of the species are used for research, but spinners are unable to be kept in captivity – they do not thrive. More and more swim-with-dolphins programs are appearing as well, and hopefully the conservation effort will ban the captivity of dolphins as a tourist attraction. Man is the dolphins’ biggest threat to survival.
This photo was taken with a GoPro 4 on burst mode in Poipu.
If this is your first visit to the Kauai Photo Challenge, it is my way of sharing my pictures of Kauai while learning more about this beautiful island where I live. You are welcome to comment or share your own pictures.
Check out Week 9 of my challenge.
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Have a great week.