The PWF research team recently had a great encounter with a pod of bottlenose dolphins that were hunting fish. Back in the office, we used the bottlenose dolphin photo-identification catalog to reveal some interesting information about the group. As it turns out, this pod contained an adoption animal (#095, “Pa‘ani”), our oldest cataloged animal (#005), a dolphin newly confirmed as a male (#114), and a female who had a calf last summer (#006).

Dolphin #005 was sighted in the very first pod added to the PWF bottlenose dolphin catalog in 1996, and dolphin #006 was first seen in 1997, making them at least 21 and 20 years old, respectively. Our adoptable female, #095 (“Pa‘ani”), was first seen in 2010, meaning she is potentially a bit younger than #005 and #006. Since she had already reached her adult size when she was first seen, it is difficult to determine her actual age, but we know she is at least 7 years old.

Determining the sex of a dolphin can be tricky, but knowing the sex of individuals can help us understand more about their social structure. The sex of #114 was confirmed via a photograph of his underside taken while leaping during this encounter. All three of the females in the pod have had calves in the past: The two older females (#005 and #006) have had multiple calves throughout their sighting histories, and our adoptable dolphin (#095) had a calf in 2012.

Through our photo-identification catalogs, we can observe long-term patterns in distribution of the dolphin species around Maui as well as learn more about each animal’s history. To keep up with Pa‘ani or any of our other adoptable dolphins, visit our Adopt a Dolphin page!