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Short-finned Pilot Whales - July 12, 2012 "Read entire blog"
The research team left Lahaina Harbor around 8 am on July 12, 2012 aboard Ocean Freedom, with no idea how amazing the day ahead would be. We were heading to the back side of Lana'i to continue our Odontocete Research efforts of some offshore dolphin species.
The day was beautiful and conditions were great for spotting dolphins. As Captain Daimar slowed the vessel down (mentioning he had seen something), there was much excitment in the air with the discovery of not just any dorsal fin, but the dorsal fin of a Short-Finned Pilot Whale.
Pilot Whales are an offshore species not commonly seen by many around Maui County unless heading towards deeper water. The last sighting of Pilot Whales by a PWF vessel occured February 12, 2011 by Ocean Voyager. Previous to that sighting, 2002 was PWF's most recent sighting.
Needless to say, the cameras were out, getting photo identificiation photos to add to our current catalog of 117 individuals. The datasheets were filled with information including vessel speed, wind direction, glare as well as pod size and behavior of the animals. We conducted a "focal follow" sticking with the animals as long as we could to get a solid number of individuals as well as their dorsal fin photos, and an idea of where they were traveling.
Eventually, it was time to head back towards Lahaina, and yet fate had in store for us another surprise....Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins, seen just outside Manele Bay on Lana'i. Spinner Dolphins are a species more commonly seen around Maui and the kind you may likely see if you come join us on a Dolphin Watch and maybe even on a snorkel trip.