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Portrait of Captain James Cook

Captain Cook visits Hawaii - 1778

Captain James Cook becomes the first known European to reach the Hawaiian Islands.

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Photo Credit: Photo can be found on wikimedia commons.
In: "A Collection of Voyages round te World ... Captain Cook's First, Second, Third and Last Voyages ...." Volume VI, London, 1790, page 1969

Captain James Cook Killed in Kealakekua Bay - 1779

Captain James Cook killed in Kealakekua Bay on Valentine’s Day in 1779. The bay would later become a marine reserve (Marine Life Conservation District in the 1960’s) and is an …

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Photo credit: The Natural History Museum, London.

John Gray Describes Spinner Dolphins- 1828 - 1828

John Edward Gray grew up in a time of unprecedented scientific discovery. His role as an intensely curious and involved scientist helped propel the sciences, biology especially, to a level …

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Photo Credit: Matson Navigation Company, photo can be found on

Hawaii becomes “Paradise of the Pacific” and the Matson Company - 1882

When Captain Cook ‘discovered’ the Hawaiian Islands, “paradise” had been found and later in 1875, a Hawaiian journalist named Henry Whitney dubbed the islands as “The Earthly Paradise” in a …

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Photo Credit: Photo can be found on wikimedia commons.

Pan Am Airmail - 1935

November 22, 1935  Pan American Airlines started flying mail to Hawaii in the China Clipper class of planes. In 1936 Pan American Airlines would start flying passengers across the Pacific from …

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Photo Credit: Photo can be found on wikipedia.

“A date which will live in infamy…”- FDR - 1941

Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 caught Hawaii and the entire United States completely off guard and marked the United States’ official entry into World War II. …

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Battle of Midway - 1942

Six months after Pearl Harbor, the Battle of Midway occurred. Midway Atoll is a small atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. It is made up of two islands, Eastern and …

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Post war advertising

The end of WWII - 1945

Hawaii emerged from WWII with military scars. As a historical US military base and the site of Pearl Harbor (the event that launched the US into the war), the traditional …

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Sea Hunt - 1958

1958 marked the first Sea Hunt Broadcast starring Lloyd Bridges and the first television show to bring viewers under the sea to experience what life is like for a scuba …

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“A truly historic occasion” Hawaii Becomes 50th State - 1959

On August 21, 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed Hawaii the 50th state of the United States. Hawaii’s inauguration into statehood followed Alaska’s, marking “a truly historic occasion” that two …

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Photo Credit: Picture taken by the SAPPHIRE project (Duke and Murdoch Universities) under permit from NOAA Fisheries.

Sea Life Park spinner dolphin exhibit - 1961

Kenneth Norris, a pioneer marine mammal researcher and major player in the development of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, is first approached about creating an exhibit at the Sea Life …

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Photo Credit: Photo can be found on wikimedia commons. This is her official photo as FWS employee. c. 1940.

Silent Spring - 1962

The environmental movement and shifts in “attitudes toward the environment… is often dated from the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring” in 1962 (Lavigne, Scheffer et al. 1999).  Rachel Carson, shown here in …

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The First Flipper Broadcast - 1964

On September 19, 1964 American television audiences were introduced to the small screen adaptation of “Flipper” which ran for three full seasons.  Flipper stars a Bottlenose dolphin named Flipper, the wild pet …

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Publicity photo of the dolphin performer known as "Flipper" promoting the 1968 re-airing of the 1964 television series Flipper.
Photo Credit: This photo can be found on wikimedia commons,

Final Broadcast of Flipper - 1967

  The final episode of Flipper aired on April 15, 1967.  After three seasons NBC chose not to renew the show for a fourth run.  Even though the show only …

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Kealakekua Bay

Kealakekua declared a Marine Life Conservation District - 1969

Hawai‛i Island’s Kealakekua Bay is established as a Marine Life Conservation District. This level of protection is unique to the four spinner dolphin resting bays studied by the Spinner Dolphin …

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The Marine Mammal Protection Act has now been protecting marine mammals for 40 years. Photo Credit: MMPA, Office of Protected Resources,

Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) - 1972

The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) was enacted on October 21, 1972.  It was written in order to protect all marine mammals, including spinner dolphins.  The MMPA prohibits take of …

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Photo Credit: Photo can be found on Wikimedia commons.

SeaWorld Orlando - 1973

The second SeaWorld park opens its doors in Orlando, on December 15th. SeaWorld joined theme park powerhouse Disney World in the Orlando area.

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Photo Credit: Figure is from Watkins and Schevill's article "Listening to Hawaiian Spinner Porpoises" (1974)

Watkins & Schevill 1974 – Listening to Hawaiian Spinner Porpoises… - 1974

Listening to Hawaiian Spinner Porpoises, Stenella cf. longirostris, with a Three-Dimensional Hydrophone Array William A. Watkins and William E. Schevill Journal of Mammalogy , Vol. 55, No. 2 (May, 1974), pp. …

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University of Hawaii publishes paper on thermoregulation in Hawaiian spinner dolphin - 1975

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The Last Episode of The Undersea World of Jacques-Yves Cousteau - 1976

The Undersea World of Jacques-Yves Cousteau is a nonfiction television documentary series which ran for eight seasons (1968 – 1976). The episodes document the aquatic explorations of renowned French filmmaker …

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Figure from Norris and Dohl (1980)

Norris, K.; Dohl, T.; (1980): Behavior of the Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin, Stenella longirostris - 1980

Kenneth Norris has been an instrumental leader in the research of whales and dolphins, and has published many groundbreaking papers on their social patterns and echolocation skills. In Hawaii, Norris …

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A marine sanctuary in Hawai’i? - 1981

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggests establishing a Marine Sanctuary in Hawai’i. The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary was officially established in 1992. From this came a …

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Last Spinner Dolphin Released from Sea Life Park - 1983

The last spinner dolphin is released from the Sea Life Park. According to a list of Cetacean Releases (, “1983. One spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris) was released on 06/07/83 by Sea …

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Calibration of Dental Layers in Seven Captive Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins, Stenella Longirostris, Based On Tetracycline Labeling - 1984

Determining the age of marine mammals through examination of growth layer groups (GLG’s) in teeth was developed in 1950 by Scheffer and is now a routine practice used to determine …

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Picture courtesy of: USGS. 2006.  Mauna Loa: Earth’s Largest Volcano, Lava Flows and their Effects, & Volcano Watch.

Most recent eruption of the largest volcano on Earth – Mauna Loa - 1984

The largest volcano on Earth, Mauna Loa, sits on the Island of Hawaii. In fact, Mauna Loa takes up about half of the island itself with an area of 5,271 …

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Photo Credit: Dolphin Days cover,

Norris 1991 – Dolphin Days: The Life and Times of the Spinner Dolphin - 1991

Norris first became involved with spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) in 1961 when he worked at Sea Life Park, first as a designer of the exhibit, and eventually as a scientific …

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Photo Credit: Photo taken by SAPPHIRE Project (Duke and Murdoch Universities) under permit from NOAA Fisheries.

1994 MMPA Amendments - 1994

One of the main goals of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of 1972  was to prevent taking of marine mammals. Taking means “to harass, hunt, capture, or kill, or …

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Photo Credit:

The Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin - 1994

The Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin, written by Kenneth Norris, Bernd Wursig, Randall S. Wells, Melany Wursig and Shannon Brownlee is published. writes, Twenty years in the making by a distinguished …

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Photo Credit: SAPPHIRE Project, Duke University and Murdoch University
under permit from NOAA Fisheries

Ecotourists’ beliefs and knowledge about dolphins and the development of cetacean ecotourism - 1996

Today more and more people are interested in experiencing the environment having contact with wild animals. In addition, activities that are performed to generate environmental awareness suggest that people change …

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NOAA’s Protect Dolphins Campaign - 1997 Overview It is against the law to feed or harass wild dolphins. For the dolphins’ sake, and for your safety, please DON’T FEED, SWIM WITH, OR HARASS WILD DOLPHINS. …

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Photo Credit: Robert Llewellyn, "Kenneth Norris in 1980,"

Dr. Kenneth S. Norris, the “Professor of Wonderment” 1924-1998 - 1998

Background Kenneth Stafford Norris was born in Los Angeles, California on August 11, 1924 and spent his early life living in LA. Eventually, he and his family moved to San …

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Photo Credit:,r:5,s:0,i:97

BBC Blue Planet series launch September 12th, 2001 - 2001

In September 2001 BBC broadcast first episode of its new documentary series – Blue Planet. This series of 8 TV shows will try to explain the complexity of ocean life …

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Prey Dynamics Affect Foraging by a Pelagic Predator (Stenella longirostris) over a Range of Spatial and Temporal Scales. - 2003

Authors:  Kelly J. Benoit-Bird and Whitlow W. L. Au Stable URL: Introduction: One can easily agree with a concept that in order to loose as little energy as possible …

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Photo Credit: Can be found on wikimedia commons.

Lammers: “Occurrence and Behavior of Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins (Stenella longirostris) Along Oahu’s Leeward and South Shores” - 2004

Spinner dolphins have a widespread distribution in tropical and subtropical oceans around the world, living in both the open ocean and coastal environments.  They are known to forage for food …

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Marine Mammal Commission Meeting - 2004

The Marine Mammal Commission holds an annual meeting and held their 2004 meeting in Kona, Hawai’i and human interactions with spinner dolphins in Hawai’i were a major topic of discussion.  …

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Photo Credit: SAPPHIRE Project, Duke University and Murdoch University
under permit from NOAA Fisheries

Swimmers and dolphins, who wants to rest at Maku’a Beach? - 2005

Scientists wanted to know more about the population of Spinner Dolphins and particularly they wanted to understand if human presence would have some kind of effect on the dolphins’ behavior …

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Photo from This photo was taken for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument Management Plan, Volume IV - Midway Atoll Conceptual Site Plan

“Spinner dolphins in a remote Hawaiian atoll: Social grouping and population structure” Karczmarski et al., 2005. - 2005

Spinner dolphins exhibit very characteristic social schedules that revolve around using coastal, inshore and atoll habitats during the day time for resting and social interactions, while foraging occurs offshore in …

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ANPR 2005 p1

ANPR: Protecting Spinner Dolphins in the Main Hawaiian Islands From Human Activities - 2005

Summary from the ANPR FR publication SUMMARY: NMFS is considering whether to propose regulations to protect wild spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) in the main Hawaiian Islands from ‘‘take,’’ as defined …

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Dynamics of Aerial Maneuvers of Spinner Dolphin - 2005

DYNAMICS OF THE AERIAL MANEOVERS OF SPINNER DOLPHINS AUTHOR: FRANK E. FISH et al, Journal of Experimental Biology 209, 590-598 Publishers: The Company of Biologists 2006: doi:10.1242/jeb.02034 This paper examined …

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If a dolphin whistle contains high frequency harmonics, the receiver will know that the whistling animal is swimming towards or along with it. If the whistles does not contain high frequency harmonics, the listening animal will know that the whistling animal is heading away from it.

Directionality in the Whistles of Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins (Stenella Longirostris) - 2006

Directionality in the Whistles of Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins (Stenella Longirostris): A Signal Feature to cue Direction of Movement Marc O. Lammers and Whitlow W. L. Au published in Marine Mammal …

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NOI 2006 p1

NOI: Protection of Marine Mammals; Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement - 2006

Summary from the NOI FR publication: SUMMARY: The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announces its intent to prepare an EIS to assess the potential impacts on the human environment resulting …

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Creation of the Pacific Islands Photo ID Network – PIPIN - 2006

The Pacific Islands Photo-Identification Network (PIPIN) was initiated in 2006 through a grant from the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission (MMC) to the cetacean research program at the Pacific Islands Fisheries …

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Dolphin SMART Program Launched - 2007

Dolphin SMART is a unique voluntary recognition and education program encouraging responsible viewing of wild dolphins. Program participation is for commercial businesses conducting and booking wild dolphin tours, or any …

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Spinner Dolphin poster

A day in the Life of a Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin - 2007

This poster was produced by NOAA’s Pacific Islands Science Center (PIFSC) and Regional Office (PIRO) as part of the education materials produced for public scoping meetings associated with the introduction …

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Cooperative Prey Herding by the Pelagic Dolphin - 2008

Cooperative prey herding by the pelagic dolphin,Stenella longirostris Authors: Kelly J. Benoit-Bird and Whitlow W. L. Au URL: Spinner dolphins rest in shallow bays during the day and feed at …

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This photo from and can be found on Wikimedia Commons.

Benoit-Bird and Au: Phonation behavior of cooperatively foraging spinner dolphins - 2009

Spinner dolphins are known to be cooperative hunters, executing highly coordinated foraging techniques in groups of 16-28.  They must herd prey into patches dense enough to allow each dolphin to …

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Economic Values of Dolphin Excursions in Hawaii: A Stated Choice Analysis - 2009

ECONOMIC VALUES OF DOLPHIN EXCURSION IN HAWAII: A STATED CHOICE ANALYSIS Authors: Wuyang Hu et al., Marine Resources Economics, Volume 24, pp 61-76 Publishers: MRE Foundation, Inc. Website: There is …

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Courbis & Timmel: Effects of vessels and swimmers on behavior of Hawaiian spinner dolphins… - 2009

Courbis & Timmel’s paper on the effects of vessels and swimmers on behavior of Hawaiian spinner dolphins (stenella longirostris) in Kealake‘akua, Honaunau, and Kauhako bays, Hawai‘i was published in 2009 …

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SAPPHIRE Project Begins - 2010

The Spinner Dolphin Acoustic Population Parameters and Human Impacts Research Project, also known as the SAPPHIRE Project, began in Summer 2010. The Spinner Dolphin Acoustics, Population Parameters and Human Impacts …

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Dolphin SMART Program launched in Hawaii - 2011

Hawaii’s Dolphin SMART Operators! Hawaii Nautical and Port Waikiki Cruises Ocean Joy Cruises Hoku Naia Holoholo Charters Dolphin SMART is a unique voluntary recognition and education program encouraging responsible viewing …

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Predicting Spinner Resting Habitat - 2012

Coastal spinner dolphins in Hawaii, and elsewhere in the world, rely on sheltered bays for rest. These inshore locations provide an opportunity for dolphins to recover energetically and cognitively during …

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“Time for R&R” Natural History Magazine Article - 2013

Heather Heenehan, PhD student at Duke University working on the SAPPHIRE Project, wrote an article for the January/February Issue of Natural History magazine entitled “Time for R&R.” Her article garnered …

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“Balancing Act” A Hawaiian Airlines Inflight Magazine Article - 2013

Ashley Yeager wrote an article for the June/July issue of the Hana Hou magazine, the inflight magazine for Hawaiian Airlines. The article is called “Balancing Act” and is all about …

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The Nai‘a Guide Released! - 2013

The Nai‘a Guide is a free educational and sustainable tourism tool.  The app provides information, maps, photos, audio, and video explaining spinner dolphin ecology in relation to disruptive tourism practices.  …

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What happened today? - 2013

Welcome to the spinner dolphin science, management and culture timeline. You can can contribute your event using the guidelines accessible from the menu at top right. This project has grown …

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