Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pantropical Spotted Dolphin Play
The Day Before Halloween Par II

Continued from the previous post: The Beauty Of The Oceanic Whitetip Shark - The Day Before Halloween Part I.

After my buddy and I had great time with the beautiful shark, we moved on toward FAD (Fish Aggregation Device) to catch some fish for dinner. Half way there...we found a few fishing boats getting together further offshore. We immediately sensed that there was a pod of pantropical spotted dolphins, Stenella attenuata, as those fishing boats were going after large yellowfin tunas or ahi in Hawaiian, Thunnus albacares, which frequently traveled with spotted dolphin pod.


First thing I do in this situation is to see if dolphins are playful. Pantropical spotted dolphins usually love to play when they are awake and excited, and like to ride boat wakes. When they are not so much  into wake riding and jumping, or in a sort of sleepy mood, they like to hang out at the bow at 2 knots.


pantropical spotted dolphin baby jumping, Stenella attenuata, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

Their leaps are simply spectacular. Perhaps leaps higher than any other dolphin species except maybe the larger common bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, (but bottlenose don't leap very often in the wild). Large adult pantropical spotted dolphins can leap as high as 30 feet or more in the air!

From my observation, most of the time, they seem to rocket out of the water and then land hard on the water in order to get rid of remoras off their bodies. I could understand. The remoras must be annoying. Also I believe they do that just for fun sometime.

Today they were... extra playful! Jumping all over the boat wakes and gave us good opportunities to take some pictures of their acrobatic play. Unfortunately it was already afternoon, so the sun was overhead and vog (volcanic gas) was kicked in making everything fuzzy.

Well...the light wasn't so good but thanks to the dolphins, I managed to produce some cool dolphin pictures. The picture above shows a leaping baby dolphin. It jumped a few times in a row. The baby dolphins typically have pretty pink belly and have almost no spots like this one.

No remoras on her, so the baby must have been jumping for joy.


pantropical spotted dolphin jumping, Stenella attenuata, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

While we played with dolphins, we closely watched other fishing boats to see if anybody is catching humongous ahi. It seemed like they were having tough time catching one today. My buddy and I don't have as much patience as those professional tuna fishermen who can troll all day long among leaping dolphins. Besides the vog got thickened making it harder to make a good clear picture, we left the scenes to continue to the way points of the day for fishing.

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