Fifteen Years old and still young....Spinner Dolphin "Read entire blog"


Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins (Stenella longirostris) have an approximate lifespan of 20 years in the wild.  The ocean is a dangerous place, however, and threats like sharks, weather, and pollution can extinguish a dolphin before it reaches 20 years of age.  Here at Pacific Whale Foundation, we have a catalog of spinners seen from the years 1996-1999, with a few seen in 2002.  We’ve also been compiling a catalog from this summer of dolphins currently found around Maui based on photos donated to us.  For the first time a few days ago, we sat down and compared the two catalogs.  With 15 years separating them, finding a match seemed unlikely. 

We’re pleased to say that we have found a match!  Spinner Dolphin 298, given the name Hōkū (Hawaiian for “star”, for its dorsal scar pattern) was spotted several times 12 years ago in 1999.  This summer Hōkū was spotted off Lanai, still swimming strong.  He/she (we’ve never photographed it with a calf so we aren’t sure) appeared to already be an adult 1999, and as such was probably at least three years old.  That means he/she is at least 15 years old now, if not older.  It’s reassuring to know that despite the threats these beautiful dolphins face today, some can still live long and happy lives.