Wild Dolphins in Hawaii and Captivity Part 1

Spinner dolphins.
Image via Wikipedia

Big Mahalo to The Wild Dolphin Foundation for their work in protecting Wild Dolphins and for granting us permission to post  terrific information from their site,  please click link above for more.

Part 1  Spinner Dolphins in Hawaii also includes some disturbing facts you may have not have known about Dolphins in captivity.

Ocean Girl Project and Becausewesurf supports all efforts towards a sustainable world and especially marine life.

Spiritual Connection Hawaii and Dolphins

Hawaiian ancestors lived deeply interconnected to each other, the land, and the sea. Dolphins (Nai`a) were considered by some to be one form of the spiritual manifestation of the god, Kanaloa. Humans are terrestrial animals, and our capacity to see and understand the importance and vulnerability of life in the sea has trailed our growing ability to harm it. Our very existence depends upon healthy oceans; dolphins and other cetaceans represent a critical piece to this huge ecosystem and in a world where so much that is wild and free has already been lost to us, we must leave these beautiful mammals free to swim as they will and must.

Spinner Dolphins In Hawaii

During the night, a deep sea community of marine life that spends daylight hours at depths of up to 3,000 feet, now begins to migrate upward and towards the shore. As these riches come within reach, spinner dolphins begin to hunt. Small subgroups spread out across the sea. Using echolocation, the spinners scan the darkness. and using their whistles, they call members of the school back together to unite in defense. The collective defenses of the dolphin school protect each member from harm. By dawn, the spinners regroup. Well-fed, they move once again towards the shelter of the islands.

The spinners have chosen this bay because of its sandy bottom — against which they can visually detect the approach of a predator. Sharks are a major concern — and a serious threat to dolphins of all kinds.

Mornings are a time of celebration as the members of the school meet, and play together. Youngsters practice their lessons. Much affectionate touching and rubbing occurs at this time…some dolphins engage in games of patty-cakes…one swimming underneath another while scissoring their pectoral fins back and forth. Others “hold hands…” Some caress each other with their tail flukes…Over the next two hours — as the dolphins enter a resting state — the school tightens up, synchronizes its breathing, and begins to prepare for sleep. The subgroups of the school move closer together. Coalitions of adult and sub-adult males move alongside groups of females and small calves. Little by little, the warm, clear waters entice them to rest, the dolphins draw closer. Together they rise and fall from the surface until each spinner slips into sleep, safe inside a cocoon of friends.

This period of rest does not resemble sleep as we know it. The dolphins are not actually unconscious as only parts of their brains are asleep at any one time. The spinners have turned their sonar off, without sound, they rely heavily on sight. And this is why clear water and white-sand bays are so important to them.

During the period of rest, the dolphins must be grouped very tightly together, combining their eyes into a “super-organ” upon which all of the animals rely.

As the spinners awaken from their rest, some members begin to spin, urging the school to move out of the bay. But other members are reluctant to leave just yet, and slowly nudge the school back into the bay, back into resting behavior. For the next hour or more, the spinners perform this zig-zag pattern. Going airborne, moving out, then quieting down and drifting back toward shore. Finally they head offshore for another night of hunting.

So called for their high, spinning leaps, spinner dolphins are known as playful, eager bow-riders. But in the eastern tropical Pacific, where tuna fishermen have killed millions of spinners since 1959, the dolphins no longer approach ships. In Hawaii, spinners (Nai`a) not only approach ships, but could be termed oceanic “Ambassadors of Aloha.” There is some belief that Native Hawaiians deemed dolphins to be a oceanic tribe with equal rights as human villagers. They work cooperatively with them to fish to this day.

In the near-coastal waters of Oahu, spinner dolphins are seen on a daily basis. Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins (Nai`a) are shaped and colored somewhat differently from other spinner dolphins.

Stenella longirostris
Hawaiian Name: Nai’a
Size: 1.7 to 2.2 meters, 75 kilograms; males slightly larger than females
Teeth: 45 to 65 sharp-pointed teeth
Food: Fish — small deep-ocean species like lantern fish, shrimp and squid
Habitat: Mainly offshore, nearshore in certain island chains
Range: Tropical, subtropical and warm temperate world ocean
Status: Population unknown, but common in most parts of its range; substantial declines have occurred in the eastern tropical Pacific.

Parts above condensed from the film narration “Ocean Acrobats: The World of the Spinner Dolphin.” please visit wilddolphin.org for more.

The Wild Dolphin Foundation is a Hawaii-based grassroots NPO, whose mission is protecting and restoring the natural habitats of dolphins through research, advocacy, public education and conservation and to create culturally-sustainable change in human behaviors which continue to threaten the well-being of dolphins and their host communities worldwide.

Dolphins have evolved over millions of years, adapting perfectly to life in the ocean. They are intelligent, social and self-aware, exhibiting evidence of a highly developed emotional sense. Caging them for profit just is not acceptable.

Here are just a few of the issues with captivity:

  • Captures of dolphins are traumatic and stressful and can result in injury and death of dolphins. The number of dolphins that die during capture operations or shortly thereafter are never revealed in dolphinariums or swim-with-dolphins programs. Some facilities even claim their dolphins were “rescued” from the ocean and cannot be released. This claim is almost invariably false.
  • Training of dolphins is often deliberately misrepresented by the captive dolphin industry to make it look as if dolphins perform because they like it. This isn’t the case. They are performing because they have been deprived of food.
  • Most captive dolphins are confined in minuscule tanks containing chemically treated artificial seawater. Dolphins in a tank are severely restricted in using their highly developed sonar, which is one of the most damaging aspects of captivity. It is much like forcing a person to live in a hall of mirrors for the rest of their life – their image always bouncing back with no clear direction in sight.

Thank you to savejapandolphins.org for your work and education!

Things you can do:
  • Help get the word out  pressure your local city government and  leaders to take action.
  • Send letters to both President Obama, Vice President Bide.
  • Make and recruit others to take the pledge: don’t go to dolphin shows.
  • See The Cove and encourage others  to see what happens to Dolphins in Japan.
Part 2 What exactly is  Dolphin Safe Tuna…
Find out about tuna on your own store’s shelves and what you can do to help dolphins!
and the Cost of fishing for Tuna
According to an estimate by the Environmental Justice Foundation, each dolphin spared by switching from “non-dolphin-safe” fishing techniques to the most widely employed alternative costs the lives of 25,824 small tuna (these are discarded, not kept and utilized), 27 sharks and rays, 382 mahi mahi (also known as “dolphin fish”), 188 wahoo, 82 yellowtail and other large fish, 1 billfish such as a marlin or sailfish and 1,193 triggerfish and other small fish.
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