SAPPHIRE

Spinner Dolphin Acoustics, Population Parameters and Human Impacts Research

Humans, Spinner Dolphins and Resting Bays in Hawaii

In Hawaii, spinner dolphins use sheltered bays as resting areas, where they are the focus of a growing tourism industry. Our project aims to assess the potential effects of tourism on these dolphins, and to evaluate the utility of time/area closures as a potential management tool.

The NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO), in conjunction with thePacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC), is in the process of developing research approaches and management plans to help reduce the exposure of restingspinner dolphins to human activity in Hawaiian waters and to ascertain the effects of this exposure on these animals. One potential management approach under consideration by NOAA focuses on time-area closures to reduce the number and intensity of interactions between humans and dolphins during the animals’ critical rest periods.

This project aims to address these knowledge gaps with an integrative research program to assess distribution, abundance, and behavior of Hawaiian spinner dolphins in proposed closure areas using a suite of visual and acoustic techniques.