Na Pali Riders has Amazing Dolphin Encounters!
We often come across large dolphin pods as we make our way to the Na Pali Coast. Dolphins love to swim along the raft, perform bow riding, as well as jump and spin in the air. These intelligent creatures are a delight to watch from the Zodiac® raft.
There are four species of dolphins found in Hawaiian waters: the Spinner dolphin, the Pacific bottlenose dolphin, the Rough-toothed dolphin, and the Spotted dolphin. [Learn about the Hawaiian Monk Seal & Green Sea Turtle]
Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin (Stenella longirostris)
Spinner dolphins are named after the mulitple spins they perform in the air - a spinning leap may include as many as four body revolutions. Tail over leaps, and back and head slaps are also common. Their aerial activity and spinning is thought to be used for communication purposes, since it is often observed when a school of dolphins is scattered. Another theory is that the spinning assists the dolphin with removing parasites or remoras. Spinner dolphins are very social creatures in the wild. They are often seen traveling with other dolphin species, Humpback whales, and yellowfin tuna. They are the smallest of the dolphins in Hawaii, ranging from 6-7 feet in length, and have a long beak. In fact, the species name means "long beak."
Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)
These dolphins range from 6-12.5 feet, have a robust body and a short, thick beak. They travel in smaller groups of 2-15 animals, and are often associated with pilot whales and other cetaceans. They are popular for their playfulness around vessels, inshore habits, and star performances at Oceanariums. Bottlenose dolphins have a life-span of 40-45 years for males and 50 years for females.
Rough-toothed Dolphin (Steno bredanensis)
The rough surface of their teeth is how these dolphins got their name. Their teeth have a wrinkled surface of rough grooves running down to the tip. Their coloring is dark gray to purplish black, with pink and white spots and streaks covering their bodies. They are similar in size to bottlenose dolphins, and have a long, pointed snout that is white underneath and at the tip. Rough-toothed dolphins are found offshore and travel with 3-4 individuals at a time.
Hawaiian Spotted Dolphin (Stenella attenuata)
Spotted dolphins are smaller than bottlenose or rough-toothed dolphins, ranging from 6-7 feet in length. Their spotting varies greatly by region, and in Hawaii their spots are relatively unseen except at close range. They have a slender, white-tipped snout. These dolphins are very social creatures, and are found traveling with herds of a few dozen to more than a thousand. Sightings of the Hawaiian Spotted Dolphin usually occur in the channels between islands.