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Dolphin Spotting? 5 Facts You Should Know About Dolphins Before Your Trip

05-04-2020

By Jennifer Birch, Guest Writer

Whether you're into marine life or not, seeing dolphins in their natural habitat should be on your bucket list. After all, watching these magnificent creatures is a wonderful spectacle, as you get to appreciate their docile and happy nature. However, it helps to know a bit more about these charming creatures before you meet them in person if only to further enrich your overall experience.

Here are five facts about dolphins you should know before you go spotting.



Dolphins spin to “scratch”

The spinner dolphin, commonly found along the Makako Bay and Kailua Kona, are some of the happiest creatures you’ll see above water. After all, they’re called spinner dolphins—which means you’ll see them literally, spin. But why? A study led by Dr. Ken Norris suggests that they spin to shake off an “itch.” Through careful videography, he also noticed that several remoras (or fishes with barbs) would fly off their bodies when spinners jump or rotate. Remoras are fairly common in Hawaii, so it’s no surprise that it is a breeding ground for spinner dolphins as well.

Dolphins are half asleep most of the time

Dolphins are mammals, which means that they need to breathe air to live. So, how do they ensure that they don’t drown when they’re asleep? Well, dolphins are power nappers. Rather than fall into full REM sleep as humans do, they instead rest half of their brain for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. This means that they can continue swimming, breathing, and looking out for predators all day long—while getting the rest they need.

Dolphins call each other by name

If you’re lucky enough to see a pod of dolphins on your snorkeling trip to Lanai or Baja, you might catch them communicating with one another. In fact, science quizzes have been published that show that dolphins call each other by name. Dolphins are known to be smart and intuitive mammals, and they use a unique whistle—their “name”—to help identify one another. Indeed, research has shown that dolphins within the same pod can learn and copy each other's distinct sound.

Dolphins shed every two hours

If you ever get the chance to touch these majestic creatures, you’ll find that their skin feels super smooth. This is because a dolphin’s epidermis, or the outermost layer of the skin, has the tendency to shed and be replaced with newer skin cells every two hours. This ensures that their skin will always remain sleek, which helps reduce drag while swimming.

Dolphins are social beings

Much like humans, dolphins seem to prefer the company of certain peers more than others. A report on Newsweek highlights a study from an international team of scientists, which tracked a group of bottlenose dolphins in Western Australia. This is a particular breed that can also be found in the shallow waters of Northwest Hawaii. Their findings revealed that, instead of spending equal time with every dolphin in their pod, they swim closer to their “friends”. On top of this, male dolphins, in particular, were shown to form social bonds with peers with the same interests. Apparently, male dolphins that used sponges for foraging were closer to other “spongers” and vice versa.

Dolphins are interesting creatures. But it’s one thing to learn about them and another to experience it with your own eyes. Start planning your next adventure with the dolphins—but most importantly, remember to be respectful of these amazing mammals while they are in their natural habitat.

Check out dolphin spotting in Hawaii. 

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