Monday, January 7, 2013

Incredible Spinner Dolphin Encounter

La Perouse Bay, Maui
  I had always heard that spinner dolphins would cruise over the sandy bottom at a protected bay on the south shore of Maui called La Perouse Bay. On one of my snorkel trips that I drive called the Molokini Wildside we can sometimes make it through the windy and wavy conditions on the way to La Perouse to check out Maui's youngest lava flows and check for dolphins. Last week we saw the dolphins several days in a row so I planned on my first day off to grab my big underwater camera, wake up early, and head down to see if I could get some good dolphins pictures.

  After a beautiful sunrise I saw a glint of silver from the middle of the bay. The dolphins were here! I grabbed my snorkel gear and and jumped in, carefully avoiding all the sharp a'a lava rocks. The spinners were way out in the middle of the bay in about 35ft of water. They are nocturnal hunters that spend their mornings in a resting state, zigzagging back and forth in bays such as this.
  Knowing this I didn't want to chase the dolphins and continuously fire off my strobe light. So I shot with just the ambient early morning light and I would position myself so the dolphins would cruise by every once in a while. There were a few other snorkelers out there kicking hard to keep up with the dolphins. The dolphins didn't seem bothered by the swimmers but who knows the effects of this day after day. One lady who I had seen out there before from my boat was getting very close, never touching, but close and would constantly talk to the dolphins through her snorkel. At one point a dolphin did come right up to her and circled her before diving back down to the others. We call this woman the crazy dolphin lady but maybe she is more like a Jane Goodall of dolphins.
This group was all adults. The babies are about the size of footballs so they would have been easy to notice. I stayed with this group of dolphins for about an hour. Towards the end, one of the dolphins started playing keep away with a leaf. He would catch it on the edge of his pectoral pin and swim around with it. Sometimes dropping it and catching it with his other pectoral fin. It is an amazing experience to swim with such a charismatic animal and to see so many traits that we only think humans have; playing games, friendship, curiosity...

See some pictures you like, buy them here: DaiMar'sPhotos

I wonder how many people reading this are thinking that this year might be the year to travel out to Hawaii... If you have already booked tickets then check out different adventure tours like snorkeling with dolphins here or go with dolphin journeys on the Big Island. Maui County doesn't allow commercial swimming with dolphins but you can still do it on your own.


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