Pa'ani the dolphin
The Story of Pa'ani
Dolphin ID# 095
Pa'ani is a bottlenose dolphin, of the scientific family known as Tursiops truncatus. Bottlenose dolphins are found in all of the world's warm temperate and tropical oceans, and are seen throughout all of the Hawaiian Islands. 
Pacific Whale Foundation's Odontocete Research Team encountered Pa'ani on three different occasions in 2010, all in approximately the same area. These sightings occurred between the islands of Maui and Lanai in an area known as the 'Au'Au channel. We frequently see wild dolphins in this region, along with humpback whales in the winter.
When people are asked to describe wild dolphins, the word "playful" is frequently employed. Dolphins move through the water with such ease, and take part in active behaviors that look like "play" to us humans. Researchers are working to understand the reasons for many of these behaviors.    
Pa'ani, whose name means "playful" in Hawaiian, is a dolphin that certainly lives up to its name. On the three occasions we've seen Pa'ani, this dolphin was busily engaged in play-like behaviors.
On February 22, 2010, Pa'ani was traveling alone. Pa'ani was very friendly with our vessel and interacted with it, while also jumping and spy-hopping. A spy hop is a behavior in which the dolphin lifts its head straight up out of the sea, so that its eyes are above water.
On June 22, 2010, Pa'ani was observed with two other bottlenose dolphins. The three dolphins were bow-riding on our vessel. Bow-riding involves swimming alongside a moving vessel. It is believed that dolphins engage in bow-riding to feel the "pressure wave" of the water moving off the boat. We can only guess that it must feel good to them!
Our research team saw Pa'ani just six days later, on June 28, 2010. At that time, Pa'ani was in the company of three other dolphins. Pa'ani was tail slapping and chin slapping. Because sound carries well through water, the behavior of chin and tail slapping might be a form of communication.
Pa’ani was sighted less than a month later on July 13, 2010 in a pod of 12 individuals.
We are happy to announce that the research team positively identified Pa’ani as a female as she was observed with a calf on March 23, 2012. She was later seen on June 5, 2012 by passengers aboard a Dolphin Watch trip to Lanai. On October 4, 2014 Pa’ani was see again in Ma’alaea Bay with a juvenile, once again confirming she is a female.
We are excited to announce, this was not the last sighting of Pa'ani as this dolphin was also seen on April 3, 2015, June 11, 2015, December 15, 2015, May 24, 2016, June 28, 2016, and November 11, 2016. In all of these sightings, Pa'ani was traveling with a group ranging in size from three to eight animals. There were no calves sighted.
Pa'ani was sighted again on August 2, 2017 traveling in a group of four animals with a large fish in her mouth. We are excited to be able to share a sighting history of over seven years with you and hope you enjoyed learning about Pa'ani.
The photo on your adoption certificate shows Pa'ani's dorsal fin. Such dorsal fin photos allow us to identify individual dolphins. Our researchers note the shape of the dorsal fin and in particular, any bumps or distinctive nicks on the "trailing edge" of the dorsal fin. Pa'ani has relatively little scarring, which has led our research team to initially believe that she may be female...a belief confirmed with later sightings of Pa’ani with a calf and juvenile dolphin.
Studies of wild bottlenose dolphins off Maui and Lanai have estimated that 134 bottlenose dolphins inhabit this area. Our Odontocete Research Team gathers data on the distribution and populations of these wild dolphins, as well as spinner and spotted dolphins, and toothed whales. We look forward to sighting Pa'ani in the future, and will share any updates with you about this playful, active dolphin.
Sightings of Pa'ani