Shirley the dolphin

The Story of Shirley

Shirley is a Hawaiian spinner dolphin named by Kathleen McCaughey from New Mexico.

Known among scientists as Stenella longirostrus, spinner dolphins earn their name meaning “long nose/rostrum” (longirostrus). Researchers use similar photographs of the right and left dorsal fin and lateral body for photo-identification (photo-id) of dolphins. Shirley’s dorsal fin is unique in the notches and shape. This creates a unique identification profile used to match Shirley against our catalog of known individuals.

This type of “mark and recapture” work through photo-id and subsequent matching enables researchers to learn about movement patterns, population abundance, group structure, site fidelity and more (Würsig and Jefferson, 1990). The Pacific Whale Foundation spinner dolphin catalog contains 293 identified individuals from the last 16 years.

Shirley is an individual known to our research team from several encounters. Shirley was seen for the first time as an adult with 70 other spinner dolphins on August 4, 1996, again in a large pod of 200 dolphins on August 5, 1997, on July 4, 1998 in a pod of 150 individuals just west of Maui, and with 150-200 dolphins on July 3, 1999 off of east Lanai.

It is not unusual for spinner dolphins to be in pods this large. This species tends to rest during the days in near shore shallow waters and sub-pods can come together at night when they move offshore into deeper waters to feed.

We are that you adopted Shirley and rest assured, your adoption will support Pacific Whale Foundation’s ongoing wild dolphin research.

Sightings of Shirley