Hawaiian Island Cetaceans

Striped Dolphin

Striped dolphin sightings are relatively infrequent but this is a commonly stranded species in the Hawaiian islands. The Hawaiian stock is thought to number 20,000 individuals but is poorly known in Hawaiian waters. Striped dolphins can be identified by two dark gray stripes along their bodies, one from the eye to anus, and another from […]

Rough-toothed Dolphin

Rough-toothed dolphins are commonly observed around all of the main Hawaiian islands. The Hawaiian stock is estimated at slightly over 6000 individuals. Two smaller stocks have been described in Hawaiian waters, with a population of rough-toothed dolphins that inhabit waters surrounding Kauai and Ni’ihau and another small population of approximately 200 individuals inhabiting the Big […]

Pantropical Spotted Dolphin

Pantropical Spotted Dolphins are common in Hawaiian waters. They can easily be identified by numerous small spots covering their entire body, with the number of spots increasing with age. Spotted dolphin calves are born without spots. Hawaiian spotted dolphins have less pronounced spots in comparison to spotted dolphins from other regions. Almost 16,000 spotted dolphins […]

Fraser’s Dolphin

Fraser’s Dolphins were first spotted in Hawaiian waters in a 2002 survey.  The estimated stock in Hawaiian waters is slightly greater than 15,000 individuals. Not much is known about the Hawaii stock or any others in the world. Fraser’s dolphins often travel is large pods numbering between 100 and 1000 individuals, traveling in fast moving […]

Common Bottlenose Dolphin

The Common Bottlenose dolphin is the most commonly recognized dolphin as this species is found in aquariums and oceanariums worldwide.  This is a coastal species in many regions of the world but in Hawaii bottlenose dolphins are typically found further from shore and may be either part of a Main Hawaiian Islands population or resident […]

Risso’s Dolphin

Despite Risso’s dolphins having an estimated abundance of slightly more than 7000 individuals in Hawaii, they are very rarely seen in Hawaiian waters. They are found only very far from shore in deep waters reaching over 13,000-15,000 feet in depth. The species is thought to forage primarily at night on squids but little is known […]

Melon-headed Whale

Little is known about the Melon-headed Whale.  Most information collected is from Hawaiian waters where there are approximately 5000 residents that travel among all of the main Hawaiian islands. An isolated stock of approximately 400-500 individuals lives off the Kohala coast of the Big Island. Melon-headed whales are often sighted in large groups at sea, […]

Short-finned Pilot Whale

Short-finned pilot whales are commonly observed around the Main Hawaiian Islands, as well as around the northwestern Hawaiian islands. The stock in Hawaiian waters is estimated at over 12,000 individuals. Short-finned pilot whales are one of many species referred to as “blackfish” because of their black coloration. They can easily be confused with false killer […]

Pygmy Killer Whale

Pygmy Killer whales have been sighted off of Oahu, Ni’ihau, and Lanai. The Hawaiian stock is estimated at 3,433. Past strandings in the Hawaiian islands suggest that pygmy killer whales  these incidents have eat fish and cephalopods in Hawaiian waters. Pods are typically composed of 12-50 individuals. These dolphins have a round blunt head which […]

Blainville’s Beaked Whale

Blainville’s beaked whales are estimated at 2300 individuals in Hawaiian waters and it is thought that there are both insular (near shore) and offshore, pelagic populations in Hawaii. Beaked whales comprise the world’s most poorly known group of whales. This deep, robust, and laterally compressed bodied whale is often speckled with many white oval scars […]