Maui Dolphin Season is Year-Round
While the wintering whales often get much of the attention on Maui, dolphins are found year round off Maui’s shores. Dolphins, like whales, are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the state prohibits intentional swimming with dolphins in Hawaiian waters.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, bottlenose dolphins (like the ones captured in these photos on Monday April 4, 2016 in south Maui) use high frequency “echolocation” to locate and capture prey and use multiple feeding strategies, including “fish whacking,” where they strike a fish with their flukes and knock it out of the water.
This particular species can grow to between 6 and 12.5 feet and has a lifespan ranging from 40 to 50 years. They are known to frequent Hawaiian waters and are commonly found in groups of 2 to 15 individuals, according to NOAA.
Passengers aboard the interisland ferries and adventure tours often report seeing spinner dolphins which “are best known for their above-water displays of leaping and spinning several times, with up to 14 leaps in a row,” according to information compiled by NOAA.
According to NOAA, spinner dolphins feed primarily at night while resting for most of the daylight hours.
Spinners are also smaller, reaching 6 to 7 feet and are characterized by having longer, more slender snouts/beaks. Spinners have a lifespan of 20 years, about half that of the bottlenose.