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Historians believe that surfing may be one of the oldest practiced sports on the planet, dating back more than 3,000 years in Polynesia.
Is it possible that dolphins gave humans the idea of surfing? No one will ever know for sure. There are a number of famous photographs of wild dolphins "surfing" in waves. In one instance, more than 20 bottlenose dolphins lines up, rostrums (or noses) pointed towards shore, to catch a wave together off the coast of Kalbarri National Park in Australia. Our research team and naturalists have also been fortunate to see wild dolphins riding in the surf off the coast of the Hawaiian islands of Maui and Lana'i.
In honor of the fact that about the fact that both humans and dolphins take part in surfing, we named your adopted bottlenose dolphin He'e Nalu. Hawaiians used the word "he'e nalu" to describe surfing. "He'e" means to slip, slide, free, or even to melt and "nalu" depicts the surfing motion of the wave.
Our researchers have not see He'e Nalu surfing but we did observe her engaging in bow-riding on our vessel. Bow-riding might be adapted from a natural behavior that the dolphin learned as a youngster when it swam in its mother's slip stream to move more easily through the water. It is fun to watch a dolphin bow-riding, gliding fast and almost without effort along the front edge or side of a moving boat. It is likely that the feeling of the pressure wave from the vessel is a pleasant sensation for the dolphin and it helps the dolphin travel with less effort.
Our first sighting of He'e Nalu took place on January 9, 2010 at 10:09 in the morning. At that time, she was in the company of one other dolphin and was bow-riding off the southeastern coat of the island of Lana'i.
Our second sighting of He'e Nalu occurred on March 23, 2010. He'e Nalu was with four other dolphins and was bow-riding again! This sighting took place about halfway between Maui and Lana'i in the 'Au'Au Channel.
It is difficult to judge the dolphin's gender without getting a good look at its underside or ventral area. However, judging by the amount of scarring we believed He'e Nalu was a male at that time. However, we were proven wrong in our assumption. On December 4, 2013 He'e Nalu was sighted again with a calf! This is our first ever recorded sighting of her with a calf and confirms that she is indeed a female! In addition, we are excited to announce that Hoa'ai, another dolphin in our adoption program, was sighted in the same pod with He'e Nalu!
He'e Nalu was sighted again in Ma'alaea Bay bow-riding, porpoising, spyhopping, swimming belly-up, tail slapping, and wave riding on August 12, 2014. On January 21, 2015, she was seen interacting with a juvenile bottlenose dolphin and two humpback whales in Ma'alaea By. The animal was once again sighted on February 23, 2014 in a group of 10 bottlenose dolphins heading west and interacting a little with the research vessel, once again in Ma'alaea By.
We are happy to announce He'e Nalu was sighted again on May 27, 2015 in Ma'alaea Bay by the Research Team shortly after they left Ma'alaea Harbor to perform their morning transects. The pod consisted of four adults, one calf, and one sub-adult. One animal approached the vessel but He'e Nalu kept her distance.
We look forward to sharing updates with you on your adoptive animal and thank you for your support. your adoption of He'e Nalu helps fund the ongoing research programs and projects at Pacific Whale Foundation.