[image align="right" link="http://nicholas.duke.edu/spinners/" width="200" autoHeight="true"]http://superpod.ml.duke.edu/johnston/files/2010/09/SAPPHIREdark.jpg[/image]
[dropcap4 color="green"]T[/dropcap4]he National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) published in 1995 an Advanced Notice of Proposed Ruling (ANPR), that proposed regulations specific to help protect wild Hawaiian spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris), from “take” (as defined in the Marine Mammal Protection Act, MMPA, and its implementing regulations), or from activities that would otherwise adversely affect the dolphins. Hawaiian spinner dolphins have predictable daily movement patterns, foraging offshore at night and returning to inshore sheltered bays to rest during day time. As a result, they are particularly vulnerable to disturbance, given their reliance on limited availability of sheltered waters to rest, socialize and avoid predators.
[image title="Spinner Poster" size="large" align="center" lightbox="true" width="600"]http://superpod.ml.duke.edu/johnston/files/2010/11/Spinner-Dolphin-poster-revsk-1024×621.jpg[/image]
Based on public comments on the ANPR as well as the strong advice from the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission, the NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO), in conjunction with the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC), is in the process of developing research approaches and management plans to help reduce the exposure of resting spinner dolphins to human activity in Hawaiian waters and to ascertain the effects of this exposure on these animals. One potential management approach under consideration by NOAA focuses on time-area closures to reduce the number and intensity of interactions between humans and dolphins during the animals’ critical rest periods. To address the efficacy of this approach, significant research is required to assess how the spinner dolphins will respond to the proposed area closures, and how this may affect their local abundance, distribution and behavior.
We are working to address these knowledge gaps with an integrative research program to assess distribution, abundance, and behavior of Hawaiian spinner dolphins in proposed closure areas using a suite of visual and acoustic techniques. This project is a joint effort between our research group and the Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit, headed by Dr. Lars Bejder. See more about this project on the web here:
[image title="Swimmers with spinners" size="large" align="center" icon="zoom" lightbox="true" autoHeight="true"]http://superpod.ml.duke.edu/johnston/files/2010/11/spinnercloseenc.jpg[/image]