Kona Coast, Hawaii  October/November 2001

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The Guardians, Spinner Dolphins

Manuka Bay
South Kona Coast, Hawaii
October 31, 2001
Nikonos V, 20mm
Fujichrome Provia 100

There have been a few moments in my time underwater which have left me completely amazed, humbled, captivated.. A whaleshark doing a flyover 15 feet above.. Communicating in tentacle sign language with several cuttlefish over an hour.. Watching two exquisite mandarinfish rise in a magical mating dance.. My time with the spinner dolphins in Manuka Bay was one such experience.

The captain explained that the dolphins along the Kona Coast of Hawaii hunt at night, and go to quiet resting places during the day. We arrived in Manuka Bay in the morning to see a huge pod of 40 to 50 spinner dolphins in one of their resting places. They came to the boat to joyfully play in the wake as we arrived and soon settled back to their quiet routine swimming in groups around the bay. We spent the morning snorkling with them. There were three baby dolphins in the group. One was nearly a white color, very unusual. The babies swam with their mothers. Groups of males would swim between the snorklers and the mothers with their babies. The captain called them the guardians. I snorkled with them long after the other snorklers had returned to our boat. The mothers decided that I was not a threat, and allowed the babies to swim closer, as they were very curious. I was so enchanted with them, that it was only after they'd passed when I realized I'd neglected to take their photos!

When we had all left the water, the dolphins circled the boat, spy hopped, and made their acrobatic spinning leaps, as if to say "Come back out and play!".

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