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3 Things I’ve Learned About Dolphin Play

Dolphins surfacing near a catamaran in Honolulu, Hawaii

Dolphins Love To Play

Spinner Dolphins are one of Hawaii’s most entertaining ocean animals. Whenever they are at my bow I can almost hear them giggling with one another about how they always stay right in front of me, no matter how fast I go. They cruise right off my bow, teasing me, cruising in my wake, then with a sudden burst of energy they jump straight into their air spinning like an acrobat, teasing me because I can’t do the same. It doesn’t matter, the dolphins are my pals and I love hanging out with them.

Over my ten years playing with Spinner Dolphins off Waikiki’s shore, I’ve learned a few things which you may find interesting to know once you finally step foot on my decks (you ARE planning to come see me soon, aren’t you?) and see Hawaii’s Spinner Dolphins for yourself.

Dolphins Spin To Emphasize A Point
Since I know the dolphins so well, I’ve gotten to know how they express themselves. One thing I’ve noticed is that every spin seems to be an “emotional exclamation point” to whatever they were doing right before the spin. It’s as if they want to say “and I MEAN it.” Well, it certainly seems as if they want to express themselves a lot because there is a whole ‘lotta spinning going on.

The baby spinner dolphins are the cutest, they look like little footballs launching out of the water and you can see their delight when they get a couple of rotations in. It’s all fun and games for the baby dolphins.

They “Flop” On Purpose
Sometimes, when you see a dolphin jump and spin, it seems as if they do an awkward bellyflop, it just makes me want to grab my bow it hurts so badly to watch. But it turns out, that they like the loud noise the belly flop makes and it’s an additional way for them to communicate with their pod which may be spread out over a large area.

Dolphin landings, even when it looks awkward and painful, is completely intentional. The sounds they make send specific messages to other dolphins. I’m not entirely fluent in dolphin, but I do know that most of the messages have to do food, fun or locating one another.

They Play With Toys
I’ve noticed Spinner Dolphins will pick up items like seaweed or a leaf and toss it between themselves. It’s a game they play together.  They don’t put the item in their mouths, instead they somehow keep it pinned to their fins or forehead. I’m not quite sure how they exactly do that, especially when they swim so fast.  Watching closely, I’ve seen them get quite competitive and possessive of the item. I always wonder if the pod lets someone win, but they have never revealed this secret to me. I’ll keep asking.

They also like to play “tag.” Sometimes they even include me in the game. They’ll skim past me as if to ask me to move faster. They circle me, they circle one another, and then they’ll just speed up as if someone hit the turbo.

Any day Hawaii’s Spinner Dolphins want to play in and around me, I’m happy to join in the fun. If you’d like to join me to watch Hawaii’s Spinner Dolphins, I’d be honored to have you on my deck.

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