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Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins

Maui’s Amazing Dolphins

Dolphins are Some of Maui’s Most Engaging Wildlife
Aboard the Maui Magic Adventure Snorkel tour, we often get the treat of seeing dolphins in the wild. These Hawaiian spinner dolphins are acrobatic creatures that jump, flip, and spin up into the air. The dolphins often ride alongside the bow of the boat or in the boats wake, offering an amazing chance to view dolphins in Maui.

Spinner Dolphins

Spinner dolphins seen in Maui most frequently on the Maui Magic, particularly along the South Maui Coastline, although they can surprise us anywhere and at any time! The number in a pod of dolphins varies, anywhere from just a couple to up to 20 or more. Occasionally, we will see bottlenose dolphins as well, which is also a spectacular treat.

One very important fact:  Many people ask, “Is swimming with dolphins in Maui allowed?” The answer is: The state prohibits intentionally swimming with dolphins in Hawaii. They are a protected species in the wild. If they happen to cross our path we can view them, but we do not intentionally approach them. This is also the same while snorkeling with turtles and other marine life.  We always ask that you do not touch the wildlife. Luckily, the dolphins often seek out the boat and are often seen riding alongside surfing and cruising the wake.

Maui Spinner Dolphins

While we do see Bottlenose dolphins, they are rarer here in Maui than the Spinner dolphins. The Bottlenose dolphins are quite a bit larger, which makes it easy to determine which dolphin is which. Quite often when we encounter the Bottlenose dolphins, they ironically seem to be hanging out near the Humpback whales!

School or Pod?

Dolphins tend to form long-lasting groups. A group of one species of dolphins between 2 and 40 is called a pod. Groups larger than that, even in the 100’s are called a school or herd. The schools or herds can be comprised of more than one species. For example, here on Maui when we encounter a school of dolphins it is often made up of Spinner dolphins and Spotted dolphins all swimming together. So when it comes to dolphins… both “school” or “pod” can be used to describe them in numbers.


Maui’s Spinner Dolphins


Facts about Spinner Dolphins:

  • Nai‘a” (nay-ee-ah) is the Hawaiian word for dolphin.
  • Pacific Bottlenose dolphins regenerate their skin about every two hours.
  • Dolphins can’t breathe underwater like fish. They breathe oxygen like all marine mammals.
  • The human brain and the dolphin brain are approximately the same size.
  • Dolphins don’t ever fully sleep they go into a state which allows half of their brain to remain active while they are resting.
  • Unlike the Humpback whales, dolphins reside here in the island waters throughout the year.
  • Full grown Spinner dolphins range in length from about 6 to 7 feet and weigh between 130 – 170 pounds.
  • Spinner Dolphins live to be between 20 and 25 years.
  • Dolphins are extremely social with one another and communicate using a combination of clicks and whistles. Each dolphin has a unique frequency that allows the dolphins to recognize who is “speaking”.
  • The evening hours dolphins go further out to sea to search for food.
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