Long-snounted Spinner Dolphin (Stenella longirostris) Date taken:
February 15, 2012 at 2:16pmDive site:
Manuka Bay, Hawaii (Kona-side of the Big Island)
This is one of my favorite shots and from one of my favorite places. We were on the Kona Aggressor in February 2011 and the weather wasn't as good "up north" (by Kona) so the boat headed south. We didn't make it all the way to South Point (of the Big Island) but we cozied into a bay just north of there and ended up hanging out for 3 days. Three amazing days of diving and snorkeling/freediving.
Dolphins generally go into bays during the day to sleep. They sleep half their brain at a time while doing something monotonous like lapping a protected bay. You have to be careful, if they're down for more than 10 minutes you need to give them some space and let them rest. If they're jumping and spinning (this is a spinner dolphin after all) and playing, well, time to jump in and see them in their element! They don't tend (generally) to visit scuba divers because they don't like bubbles. And, generally, they're not going to get all that close but they will occasionally "buzz" you.
So, we were fortunate enough to have had a large pod resting in the bay all three days. I spent a lot of time underwater over those three days often snorkeling between dives. Our girls. who were open water certified on that trip and who were 10 and almost 12, were also loving the interaction and in the water almost as much.
That brings me to this photo. We estimated that there were roughly 120 dolphin in the pod and over the three days we'd lose smaller groups of them to head out hunting. By the third day there were only 13 dolphins in the bay. Katie and I were out snorkeling and all of a sudden the group swam a circle around us... then, one came right over to me and let me get this shot. Then, all 13 of them left the bay. I'd like to think it was saying goodbye and thanks for the fun...
Such wonderful animals; I wish everyone could experience them this way...
iNaturalist observation: 5217183