Vigilance, resilience and failures of science and management: Spinner dolphins and tourism in Hawai’i

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© Cambridge University Press 2014.This chapter provides a brief overview of the complex relationship between tourism operations in Hawai'i and spinner dolphins – informed by what is known about the specialized behaviour and habitat needs of these animals. The chapter begins by introducing readers to the biology and behavioural ecology of Hawaiian spinner dolphins and illustrates why chronic harassment from unregulated tourism operations jeopardizes their extraordinary lifestyle. A brief retrospective on what is known about the tourism industry in Hawai'i and spinner dolphins is presented, illustrating how both science and management have failed to study and protect this species over the past 15 years. A brief prospectus follows, and argues for precautionary management. Finally, a comparison with historical accounts of how human–bear relationships have been managed in the US over time reiterates that these issues have been faced previously in other systems, and that the management of dolphin–human interactions in Hawai'i, and indeed elsewhere, has not been informed by the lessons of history. Spinner dolphins Spinner dolphins are small odontocete cetaceans found globally in subtropical and tropical oceans (Perrin, 1998). Spinners are widely distributed in the Pacific, where at least four subspecies are recognized (Perrin, 1998). One form – Stenella longirostris longirostris – often referred to as Gray's spinner dolphin or the Hawaiian spinner dolphin, is the most widely distributed (Perrin, 1998). Hawaiian spinners are easily identified visually by their distinctive long narrow beak, striking three-part grey colour pattern (dark grey dorsal cape, light grey lateral fields and white or light grey ventral surfaces) and behaviourally by their characteristic longitudinal aerial spins (Perrin, 1998). Hawaiian spinners use both pelagic and coastal habitats, and in many places in the Pacific Islands Region, spinner dolphins are found during daylight hours in shallow (< 50 m) and sheltered bays. In these locations spinner dolphins socialize, care for their young and exhibit a stereotypical behaviour referred to as resting.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Johnston, DW

Published Date

  • January 1, 2014

Volume / Issue

  • 9780521195973 /

Book Title

  • Cambridge University Press

Start / End Page

  • 275 - 292

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1017/CBO9781139018166.023

Citation Source

  • Scopus