The Spinner Dolphins are wild animals therefore no predictions about their behavior can be made. They are not depending on us for food or other needs, so it is mostly up to them if, how and when they may arrive to greet us. It’s also up to our actions how the encounter may go so we need to be very sensitive to the fact we are in their “home”. The dolphins may disappear within a few minutes of entering the water, or they may swim in close proximity for an hour or two… we let the dolphins decide when the swim is over.
We do our tours in very small numbers, typically 2-6 people so we don’t scare the dolphins like a large group of 20-40 people may possibly do if everyone jumps into the water at the same time. We ask that you do not try to touch the dolphins as it will probably frighten them away, bringing to an end the wonderful encounter. Your safety is our number one priority.
As we interact with the marine mammals in their wild state, encounters are not 100% certain therefore we cannot guarantee we will see and swim with them. We will obviously do our best and if for some reason we do not see them we still do the other activities and just being in the environment on the Westside is a very special and beautiful experience. If by chance the Dolphins don’t arrive we will do our best to accommodate you and bring you out the next possible day during your stay (if we are not already booked on another tour) so perhaps keep the day after your tour date open just in case.
Want to know more about the Spinner Dolphins (Stenella longirostris) and why do the dolphins come to the beach shoreline? We are happy you asked… During the night, a deep sea community of marine life that spends daylight hours at depths of up to 3,000 feet, now begins to migrate upward and towards the shore. As these riches come within reach, spinner dolphins begin to hunt. Small subgroups spread out across the sea. Using echolocation, the spinners scan the darkness. Using their whistles, they call members of the school back together to unite in defense. The collective defenses of the dolphin school protect each member from harm. By dawn, the spinners regroup. Well-fed, they move once again towards the shelter of the islands.
The spinners typically choose a bay because of its sandy bottom, against which they can visually detect the approach of a predator. Sharks are the main concern. Over the next couple hours, as the dolphins enter a resting state, the school tightens up, synchronizes its breathing, and begins to prepare for sleep. Little by little, the warm, clear waters entice them to rest, the dolphins draw closer. Together they rise and fall from the surface until each spinner slips into sleep, safe inside a cocoon of friends.
This period of rest does not resemble sleep as we know it. The dolphins are not actually unconscious as only parts of their brains are asleep at any one time. The spinners have turned their sonar off, without sound, they rely heavily on sight. And this is why clear water and white-sand bays are so important to them.
As the spinners awaken from their rest, some members begin to spin, urging the school to move out of the bay. But other members are reluctant to leave just yet, and slowly nudge the school back into the bay, back into resting behavior. For the next hour or more, the spinners perform this zig-zag pattern. Going airborne, moving out, then quieting down and drifting back toward shore. Finally they head offshore for another night of hunting.
People are fascinated with the Spinner Dolphin and all that it entails. It is one of the most social of all species. It is also one of the most spectacular to be able to view due to their amazing jumps, flips, and spins outside of the water. They can be found living in groups that range from 100 to several hundred.