About Spinner Dolphins

  • Spinner dolphins are marine mammals and are one of the smaller dolphins.
  • Their latin name is Stenella longirostris or “long beak.”
  • They are very social with each other and other marine species.
  • Spinner dolphins are the most commonly seen dolphin in Hawaiian waters.  There are about 2,000 to 3,000 individuals that live in different stocks.
  • The distinct stocks are:  2 in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, 1 stock in Oahu and Maui Nui waters, 1 stock in Big Island waters and 1 deep sea (pelagic) stock.  These animals do not interbreed between stocks so the species is very vulnerable.
  • Spinner dolphins are between 130 to 170 pounds in weight, 6 to 7 feet long and can live about 20 years.
  • They are known for the above-water displays of leaping and spinning.
  • These animals reach sexual maturity around 7 years of age. The gestation period is around 11 months, they nurse their calves for 1 to 2 years and give birth every 2 to 3 years.
  • This species is unique in that they spend daylight hours resting, sleeping and caring for their young.  Therefore, if disturbed during daylight hours they can become stressed, fatigued and less effective at hunting and reproduction.
  • Disturbance caused by humans is harmful to their success as individuals and as a species.  Please do not interact, or cause an interaction, with these animals. Do not swim with spinner dolphins.

Learn more about key threats to Hawaii's spinner dolphins.

Get The Responsible Viewing Guidelines Brochure


Sharing the Environment with Spinner Dolphins

Help preserve the Spinner Dolphins. 

Stay at least 50 yards (150 feet) away. Do not enter the water in the vicinity of the dolphins.

Limit your observation period to 30 minutes or less.

Do not encircle or trap dolphins between boats or the shore. Pass behind any animals.

If approached, please put your boat engines in neutral and allow them to pass.

If approached while swimming in the water, leave the water or the area you are swimming without causing disturbance – do not attempt to swim with the animals.

Be aware of and abide by all approach and interaction rules.