The Lives of Hawai'i's Dolphins and Whales: Natural History and Conservation

December 8, 2020
The Lives of Hawai'i's Dolphins and Whales: Natural History and Conservation

Ocean currents, winds, and rainfall all work together to createa marine oasis around the Hawaiian Islands, providing a home formany species of dolphins and whales normally found in the deepoceans of the world. The Lives of Hawai'i's Dolphins andWhales opens a window into the world of these mysteriouscreatures with stories and observations from author Robin W.Baird's work over the last seventeen years. The book includesexceptional full-color photographs of each species, life historydescriptions, conservation threats, and maps showing sightinglocations and movements of tagged individuals among the islands andoffshore. While the well-known resident spinner dolphins andvisiting humpback whales are covered, the ten species oflesser-known open-ocean dolphins and whales that are resident tothe marine slopes of the islands are highlighted as well. Amongthese are endangered false killer whales, deep-diving Cuvier's andBlainville's beaked whales, abundant spotted dolphins, coastalbottlenose dolphins, cryptic dwarf sperm whales, family units ofshort-finned pilot whales, and social melon-headed whales. Bairdalso describes thirteen species of dolphins and whales that arefound in offshore waters or are seasonal or occasional visitors toHawaiian waters, including killer whales, the iconic sperm whale,and even blue whales and North Pacific right whales.More is known about the social organization and natural historyof many of these marine mammals in Hawai'i than anywhere else inthe world. For all of the species discussed, Baird presents dataobtained from long-term photo-identification studies, withdistinctive individuals tracked through time and space; for many ofthem, he includes findings from studies using genetics andsatellite tagging. He also provides information on predators andprey, social organization, diving, and night-time behavior, alongwith suggestions on how to tell some of the more difficult toidentify species apart. The book closes by focusing on conservationissues, both success stories and challenges, engaging readers toconsider ways to protect Hawai'i's unique assemblage of residentdolphins and whales.