Please Help Save Wild Dolphin Swims in Hawaii




Agency: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Document Type: Rulemaking
Title: Protective Regulations for Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins under the Marine Mammal Protection Act
Document ID: NOAA-2005-0226-0002


COURT CASE reference #: 1:13-cv-00684-SOM-RLP Document 98 Filed 03/31/15

from Joan Ocean, MS. 

 On March 31, 2015 I was a PLAINTIFF with a number of Environmental organizations, in a law suit against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for giving the Navy permits to kill unlimited numbers of dolphins and whales. We won the law suit to protect the cetaceans et al, in the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii.

The Court found the National Marine Fisheries Service, in violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act in Hawaii (a Humpback whale birthing sanctuary) and Southern California (summer feeding grounds of the Humpback whales) and specified protection for the sperm whales, pygmy and dwarf sperm whales, Dall's porpoise, beaked whales, false killer whales, short-beaked common dolphins, white-sided, Risso's, rough-toothed, spinner, spotted and striped dolphins, short-finned pilot, melon-headed whales, California sea lions, northern fur seals, turtles, and Hawaiian monk seals. 

The US Navy had been given illegal permits by NMFS to kill untold numbers of dolphins, whales and seals. For example, NMFS authorized the Navy to kill the Hawaii Island stock of bottlenose dolphins by a number that was nearly 7 times the Potential Biological Removal (extinction level) of 0.9. And gave permits allowing the Navy to kill the Hawaii Island stock of Spinner dolphins 2 times the number that would lead to extinction. NMFS referred to it as a "Negligible and Incidental Impact". 

The Court concluded that the Marine Mammal Protection Act requirements have not been met and that the NMFS's finding that Navy activities will have only a "negligible impact" on affected species and stocks is not valid.
The Court entered judgement in favor of the Plaintiffs, ordered, effective immediately, that the Navy must comply and must prepare a new EIS to be submitted in 2018.

I submitted my deposition as part of the Cetacean Society International, along with other environmental groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council that won this suit.

The National Marine Fisheries Service and NOAA gave permits to the Navy... that allowed the Navy to kill many thousands of dolphins and whales legally without any restrictions. . There is an EXTINGUISHED SPECIES QUOTA (PBR) that explains the number of cetaceans that can be killed before that species becomes extinct. NMFS allowed the Navy to kill numbers that far exceeded that extinction limit.

Swimming among the Hawaiian Spinner dolphins does not harm the dolphins. In fact their numbers are increasing annually as they joyfully come to meet us each day. Look at the prevalent footage on YouTube and Facebook and you will understand.

We encourage you to find some better solutions for the community as is your job. (National Policy Act)  Let's work together. Thank you.

~~~~~ 2nd Comment sent:

Sept. 15, 2016
To NMFS from Joan Ocean:

  I am CO-FOUNDER of Dolphin Connection International. Established in California in 1984.  I have lived in Hawaii for 28 YEARS.

I have spent over 17,000 hours in the ocean alongside dolphins and whales here, and in other countries.

My higher education is:  A Bachelor of Arts degree - Cal State University, San Diego   &   MASTER OF SCIENCE degree - in Counseling Psychology and Human Development, in Florida, where I spent years working as a Federal Agent for Child Protective Services.

Since you give us no other choices, I support NOAA’s Alternative # 1: No Action.

       Some of the people employed by NOAA & NMFS would have us believe the numbers of Hawaiian Spinner dolphins along the Kona coast, Big Island are declining. That is not true.  In fact their numbers are increasing and all of us who are with them every day can attest to that.

     I was the first facilitator to take the 1st boat to bring swimmers to meet the dolphins in the early 1990’s here along the Kona coast. We carried 15-22 passengers, mostly groups from Japan. Japan --was the first foreign country to translate and publish my book entitled:  Dolphin Connection, in Japanese.  All of those people who continue to meet the dolphins in Hawaii, are now determined to stop the travesty against dolphins in Taiji. Their numbers are increasing.  

If 24 or 36 dolphins joined us every-other day, during our week long retreats by boats beginning in1990, we were pleased.  TODAY.. Now, 200 PLUS dolphins come to meet us each day and the numbers of dolphins are still increasing.  In addition,  they now come to be with us EVERY day.  

I am on the ocean an average of 208 mornings a year.  There are MANY births happening now. They give birth all year, but even more so in August and September (It used to be July and August, but now the warmest months are Aug and Sept.)  Soon after birth, the mom dolphins bring the babies right over to us. As if they are introducing them to us.  Many people here will verify that very common, friendly, pod-like behavior.

Here is a Quote from the highly esteemed Spinner Dolphin Researcher, Dr Kenneth Norris, a renowned marine mammal biologist, conservationist and naturalist.  Dr. Norris completed pioneering work on dolphin echolocation.  He also helped establish the University of California Natural Reserve System and implemented passage of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.  Norris was a professor at UCLA and UC Santa Cruz.  This is his quote, page 141, from his 400 page book entitled:   HAWAIIAN SPINNER DOLPHINS, published in 1994.   He and  his associate researchers preceded me, living in the same house as I eventually lived in during the 1980’s and 90’s … directly on Kealakekua Bay. --  Dr. Norris wrote: 

“to fully appreciate the dolphins and their environment, the observer must venture below the surface.  These below surface environments are very different from those we experience in air.” 

IN OTHER WORDS:  You cannot get an accurate count of the number of dolphins present when you are looking at them from a boat. .. as the NOAA researchers are doing.  The majority of dolphins are under water.   Therefore the NOAA 'research' regarding diminishing numbers of dolphins in the bays is wrong.  In fact, the numbers of dolphins in the bays and along the Kona coast are increasing every year.

The extensive research, of 20 years, by Dr Norris et al, of the Hawaiian Spinner dolphins included  ----

a.) direct observation from boats  both a 6 passenger boat in the Bay, and they also used ~ a live-aboard boat for deep ocean work with the Spinners up to 6 miles off shore,  

b.)  they catalogued dolphins with underwater photography, using swimmers  (see page 366),  Here is a quote from his seminal research book about this:  "In this situation the dolphins were sometimes remarkably tolerant of a swimmer. Some sequences were obtained with the animals only 1 meter or so away from the swimmer." 
Dr. Norris includes more information about this and I encourage you to read it all. Here I quoted just the last 2 sentences where the researchers used 4 rolls of film per swim, while photographing the Spinners underwater. 

c.) 23 times they took aerial photos of the dolphins from an airplane and

 d.) and e.)  they also had an observation platform up on the Pali (cliff), in addition to the observation from the Dolphin House overlooking Kealakekua Bay.

The number of Spinner dolphins in Kealakekua Bay at that time ranged per day, on the days they arrived in the Bay, from 20 to 30 (the average number) to an occasional 85 dolphins.  These numbers are consistent with the numbers I  documented over the years, printed out, and gave NMFS in October, 2006 when we met at the King Kamehameha Hotel for this same type of NOAA/NMFS community meetings/hearings.  I lived there on Kealakekua Bay from 1988 to 2001. As of today (2016)  the numbers of dolphins have increased greatly.

The research of Dr. Ken Norris is WHAT I CALL VALID  RESEARCH.  And I continue to peruse his many photos to identify the dolphins I still see today in the Hawaiian Spinner pods here.

Let’s get together to work out a plan that is good for all, for many generations. Do we really want the Federal Government to take control of our beaches and coastal waters?


My name is Lanny Sinkin.  I am one of the Elders of Dolphinville.  We welcome you as guests in our home.

While we understand that your model for meetings such as this one is to allow people only a few minutes to speak to you, we decided to have four of the Elders provide you with an in depth presentation of perceptions and realities regarding the Dolphin/Human interactions that take place on our island.  That presentation will take approximately one hour. 

The Elders speak for themselves, for the Dolphinville community, and for the tens of thousands of people who have experienced the joy of being in the water with the Dolphins, most of whom are too far away to come before you today.

I will begin our presentation and be followed by other Elders who will introduce themselves.

First of all, you have chosen a day that for us is a day of mourning.  Today the annual Dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan has begun.  The Japanese Government has authorized the killing of 1820 bottlenose Dolphins, Pilot Whales, and False Killer Whales.

The Taiji killers also have pre-sales of 150 live-captured Dolphins to be enslaved to hotels, theme parks, and other entertainment displays requiring the Dolphins to live in miserable conditions, away from their families, and essentially in solitary confinement.   You contribute to the Dolphin slave trade by ignoring the captive Dolphin programs.

We ask for a moment of silence to send our love to those cetaceans being killed and enslaved.

You have chosen this day to initiate your efforts to harass people who love the Dolphins, consider them sacred, and spend their lives enhancing the Human/Dolphin relationship.

When I speak of the Dolphinville Elders, permit me to elaborate.  We convened a community meeting last night.  Many of those in attendance have been swimming with the Dolphins for many years.  I estimated that there was somewhere between 400 and 500 years of direct contact experience in that room.  Those experiences provide a wealth of knowledge and wisdom that far exceeds anything your agencies can bring to this discussion.   

In traditional societies, the younger members defer to the Elders for guidance because the Elders have a lifetime of experience.  Questions of community importance are brought to the Elders, who in turn develop proposals based on their accumulated experiences.

You young ones are impatient.  You believe you can take a handful of studies that failed to examine 90% of actual Dolphin behavior, which takes place under water, speculate on what those studies might mean, and leap to policy conclusions – such as the proposal to break the Dolphin/Human connection by making those engaged directly with the Dolphin into outlaws.

We bring to you a different paradigm for consultation and a different paradigm for perceiving the Dolphin community.

You believe that you might have perceived some problems with the way Humans are interacting with Dolphins in our waters.  You rely on studies that are generally out of date and provided little actual data to support a conclusion that a problem exists.  In fact, some of your own studies found no problems. On that thin foundation, you proceed to construct a regulatory structure to govern the Human/Dolphin interactions.  You come to our home to tell us what your plans are with the pretense of wanting to hear our views.

You gather support from State of Hawai’i agencies, like the Department of Land and Natural Resources, who are more ignorant of Dolphin behavior than you are.  They expressed their support for “eliminating swim-with-[D]olphins activities” before you have held your first meeting.

We suggest a different process.  We have established a committee in Dolphinville that is willing to sit down with you, discuss your concerns, and develop appropriate policies for responding to those concerns for which there is sufficient evidence to conclude that a concern is valid.  We suggest you shelve your proposed rule for now and, instead, engage in direct communications with our committee.

As to a perceptual paradigm shift, the truth of the current intersection of NOAA-NMFS/the Dolphins/and Dolphinville is similar to the truth of what happened when haoles (foreigners) came to Hawai’i.  That encounter was a tragedy of great proportions because the haoles failed to perceive that they had encountered a highly sophisticated civilization, in many ways scientifically superior to the civilization of the haoles.

The Hawaiians excelled at the management of land and water, complex social systems, medicinal knowledge, and numerous other aspects of a highly developed civilization.  Through thousands of years of observation, the Hawaiians had an understanding of how the ecological systems of the planet operated and how to live sustainably within those systems.  They had hundreds of names for different ocean waves; western civilization has none other than the adopted Japanese word tsunami.

Rather than appreciating the remarkable civilization that they had encountered, all the haoles saw were half-clothed savages whose innocence and natural wealth could be exploited.  The haoles confused subsistence with sustainability because they saw no profit system.

The Hawaiian civilization was based on managed abundance, shared among all the people.  They did not need profits.  They did not need private land ownership.

In their arrogance and ignorance, the haoles missed a golden opportunity to learn and almost destroyed a civilization that carries wisdom, intelligence, and knowledge that could be of great benefit to all Humanity in our current time of ecological crisis.

Today, NOAA and NMFS fail to acknowledge that Human haoles entering the ocean have encountered a highly sophisticated Dolphin civilization. 

The on-land community of Dolphinville does acknowledge that Dolphin civilization and seeks to learn from it and establish a relationship with it.

The methodology of Dolphinville is profoundly scientific because the members of Dolphinville are engaged in the original science – observation.

People in Dolphinville observe the Dolphin by immersing themselves into Dolphin civilization.   There are numerous books, videos, and other documentation of the Dolphin civilization.  As an example, Susan Casey wrote a book called Voices in the Ocean, in which she explored the Dolphin/Human interaction.  In her book, she devotes a chapter to examining Dolphinville and documents her discussions with our Elder Joan Ocean, who you will hear from shortly.

A passage from that book reads as follows:
Essentially, the mass of dolphins moved in fluid, constantly changing groups, much like people milling around at a cocktail party.  This was a sophisticated arrangement, uncommon in nature, requiring the animals to recognize one another, form bonds, trade favors, recall past associations, and get along in unfamiliar circumstances.  Scientists have wondered what factored into a dolphin’s decision to leave one group or join another; they discovered that dolphins bopped between social clusters for the same reasons humans might.  A teenage dolphin swimming along with his mother, for instance, might defect to a band of teenage dolphins who were having raucous fun; females with calves liked to hang out together; mating pairs were mostly interested in one another.  In dangerous situations or tricky hunting conditions these subgroups would merge back together into one larger pod.  When the heat was off, they would drift apart again.  To researchers it seemed likely that the spinners along this coast all knew one another, at least on an acquaintance basis.

These are the types of observations that can provide a true understanding of the Dolphin civilization.

When two civilizations encounter each other, the results can be devastating, as seen in the genocide the Hawaiian people have experienced.

There is also the potential for mutual sharing that enriches both civilizations.  That is the goal of Dolphinville.  Your short-sighted interruption of the learning process now underway will destroy what has been built so far and deny Humanity a future that can heal and restore the damage done by Humanity’s lack of consciousness regarding the Earth’s life support systems.

We also observe ourselves in relation to Dolphins.  We have gained unique and powerful experiences, learned invaluable lessons, and glimpsed a new world of possibilities for the Human species.

The main barrier to establishing mutual recognition and respect between the Dolphins and the Humans is the ethnocentric barrier to Human/Dolphin interaction.  Many Humans are so reluctant to consider any other species as being intelligent and conscious that all evidence of such characteristics is considered suspect.

That barrier exists today in the form of Humans who refuse to accept the possibility of interspecies communication and attempt to invalidate the experiences of those who have experienced that reality.  When those communications take the form of mental projections – what has in the past been termed telepathy – the skepticism/discomfort of traditional scientists increases.

At the same time, there are many people who are perfectly comfortable with the view that Humans are not the sole goal of evolution, not the crown of creation.  The conflict over Humans swimming with Dolphins takes place in the larger context of the ongoing work of establishing communications between Humans and Dolphins through mutual socialization.  Those who oppose the shared swims are more likely to reject evidence of conscious interactions between Humans and Dolphin.

Among the most reluctant to acknowledge the possibility of Dolphin consciousness and Human/Dolphin communication are scientists who fear that their reputation among their colleagues will be harmed by any such admission, however much evidence emerges.  That reservation is not a scientific reason to embrace their reluctance.

At the spiritual level, the concept of intelligence in non-Human creatures challenges the Dominionists insistence that all life is subordinate to Humans and simply exists to serve Humans.  Acknowledging Dolphin intelligence and civilization would pose a major threat to the Dolphin slave trade.

If they prevail, these objections to considering the question of Dolphin intelligence and consciousness cripple objective research and evaluation of experiential data.

There were voices saying not to bother submitting comments to NOAA and NMFS about spiritual experiences, interspecies communications, and the higher potentials for a true Dolphin/Human relationship because NOAA and NMFS are so bound by their prejudices that they are not interested in any information that challenges their pre-determined conclusions.

We chose not to listen to those voices because we believe in the potential for you're your growth and maturity.  We believe that the more you understand Dolphinville, the more you will respect what we are trying to do here.  If that bridge of understanding can be built, we are convinced that any adjustments to the Human/Dolphin interaction that might prove necessary can be implemented in a mutually respectful manner that supports our continued work.
At the same time, you must realize that your reputation in our islands is not a very positive one.

You are the United States agency that hands out permits like candy to the United States Navy for activities in the ocean that will harass hundreds of thousands or even millions of ocean creatures, including Dolphins.

When the Navy came to our island to bombard the Humpback Whales during their mating and birthing season with the Navy’s low frequency active sonar, I began immediately receiving messages that the Whales were fleeing the test area.  Shortly after the assault began, Whale watch captains and shore observers were reporting to me that the Whales had all left the test area.  I also received reports of Dolphins moving inshore and keeping their heads out of the water when tests were going on.

The NMFS permit for the testing called for suspension of the tests, if there was an abnormal absence of Whales in the test area.  I notified the Navy and NMFS of the reports I was receiving and called upon them to stop the testing.

NMFS ignored my message in favor of reassurances from the Navy that there was no abnormal absence of Whales and the tests continued.  The years of experience on the part of those reporting the abnormal absence meant nothing to NMFS when it came to enforcement action that legally should have been taken against the Navy.  We do not want history to repeat itself in terms of those with true expertise being ignored again.

At the time of the sonar testing, I filed suit five times against the Navy and NMFS to stop the assault.  Each time, NMFS or the Navy dodged the opportunity to defend their actions before a judge by terminating the testing or taking other similar measures to evade judicial review of their activities.

Now you return to tell us that we cannot interact with the Cetaceans for friendly communications.  NMFS appears to be pursuing a reduction in the respect shown for the Dolphins under the guise of protecting them.  That diminishment of the Dolphin serves the interests of NMFS favorite client, the Navy, because the more NMFS grants the intelligence of the Dolphin, the harder it is for NMFS to issue permits to the Navy to harass the Dolphins.  If true recognition between the Dolphin civilization and Human civilization took place, those permits would be acts of war.

The people on our island understand the Dolphin/Human situation very well.  They can devise a plan to reduce the number of unconscious Human interactions with the Dolphin.  NMFS can take its place as an enforcer of last resort to deal with those cases and otherwise leave our island to manage its own affairs.

We can forgive your actions and proposals when you were uneducated about the Dolphin civilization and our role in interacting with them.

Your first meeting with our committee will be an opportunity for real ho’oponopono.  That is an ancient Hawaiian process for resolving conflicts that involves kūkākūkā (in depth discussion) and ho’owehewehe (uncovering the truth).

We look forward to having such a productive process followed as a prelude to moving forward together.

Before I go, perhaps you should consider enforcement action against the fossil fuel companies whose combustion is warming and acidifying the oceans at an alarming rate, threatening all sea life, including our beloved Dolphins.

Let me close by sharing with you a Proclamation issued by the King of the restored Kingdom of Hawai’i.


Proclamation 2

Thank you for your time and thanks for all the fish.

Lanny Sinkin, Attorney at Law
P. O. Box 944ß
Hilo, Hawai’i  96721-0944
(808) 936-4428



Known by scientists and enthusiasts for years, yet not fully comprehended by mainstream society, cetaceans (dolphins and whales) are highly intelligent beings, with larger brains and perhaps a more complex language than human beings.

The fact is that thousands of dolphins are still being killed every single day in the wild--a daily death total larger than the grand total of captive dolphins for the entirety of recorded history. These deaths occur at the hands of humans--active deaths by those in the fishing industry still using speedboats, nets, and bombs, and passive deaths resulting from general pollution and habitat disruption (not to mention LFAS!) Even before the Marine Mammal Protection Act was stripped of most of its teeth by a conservative US Congress in the last few years, tuna fishing interests were still able to usurp most of the controls by a variety of means including death threats to government observers unless they recorded "acceptable" dolphin kill totals.

To save cetaceans it is painfully clear that we must save the humans, change their minds--on a grand scale. Books and videos are no substitute for the experience of direct human dolphin interaction…We need millions of humans to become educated about cetaceans and understand how special they are. Those who have encountered dolphins know how they were changed by them and know what I'm talking about.

The forces against the cetaceans are very powerful, and incomprehensibly wealthy…If divided, conservationists, oceanariums, scientists, government, and other thinking people concerned about Cetacea, have no chance against the true enemies--who are plenty happy that we stay divided…But please don't limit the public's access--educating them is the most important part.

Dr. John C. Lilly



I am a physician and scientist with a long history of involvement in human dolphin interaction both personally and scientifically. I recently participated in a meeting on the Big Island of Hawaii regarding NOAA’s proposed felony fines to citizens for swimming with dolphins.  The group that met had at least 500 years of human dolphin interaction collectively.  NOAA states on their website that NOAA participates in in “Citizen Science.”  The NOAA site ( goes on to define Citizen Science:

“Citizen science is defined as a form of open collaboration where members of the public participate in the scientific process to address real-world problems in ways that include identifying research questions, collecting and analyzing data, interpreting results, making new discoveries, developing technologies and applications, and solving complex problems. NOAA has a rich tradition of supporting citizen science. This tradition is being carried on through a portfolio of projects fostered and supported across the Agency.”

NOAA lists as number 2 of 4 of its Resilient Communities and Economies Goals as defined by the 2014-2017 Strategic Plan as:

GOAL 2: Communities use comprehensive planning to make informed strategic decisions

Sadly, Citizen Science is TOTALLY LACKING in NOAA’s proposed management of Human-Dolphin interaction here in Hawaii!!

NOAA states on their web site:

What research supports the need for responsible viewing practices?
“Scientific research has shown that human interactions, either boat-based or intentionally swimming with marine mammals in the wild, can disrupt their normal behavior and activities.” Then goes on to list “Notable literature”

The most telling of this “literature” that NOAA based its recent punitive regulation proposals on is demonstrated in the contracted (by the Marine Mammal Commission) document which shockingly fails in their hyperlink of this article for the public to view!!: Samuels, A., L. Bejder, and S. Heinrick. 2000. A Review of the Literature Pertaining to Swimming with Wild Dolphins.  Contract Report Prepared for the Marine Mammal Commission

The Marine Mammal Commission is responsible for developing and/or reviewing marine mammal policy and guidance documents. This very document they commissioned and upon which NOAA is basing its proposed felony fines to citizens for swimming with dolphins, clearly states that there is little or no research to back up their statements that swimming with dolphins could constitute harassment. Most of the author’s conclusions fail to be based on science but are listed as PRESUMPTIONS.  The word root “presume” is used 12 times in the document.

The document itself begs for more research:

“…this is only the tip of the iceberg, and more refined, in-depth, and longitudinal investigations are needed…”

“complementary studies are needed that focus on the behavior of individual animals as members of local communities…” page 16

“Focal-animal follows of individual cetaceans may not be practical in all situations …but are likely to be feasible in many cases of habituated and unhabituated cetaceans. Use of the technique would complement and fill in the gaps in information obtained from existing methodologies. Such research might include (1) details of in-water interactions between dolphins and humans, including types and frequencies of interactions; (2) comparisons of the behavior of the same individuals in the presence and absence of swimmers, (3) comparisons of the behavior of individuals that do and do not interact with swimmers in the same region or community, and (4) determining which individuals or age/sex classes and what proportion of local communities are more likely to interact with swimmers, be detrimentally affected by swimmers, or avoid swimmers.

Conducted over periods of several years, such studies would provide valuable information about short- and long-term impacts of swim-with encounters on the lives of individuals, animals of different age/sex classes, activity states, or reproductive conditions, and cetacean communities.”  Page 17

My Comment: Where has NOAA and the Marine Mammal Commission been these last 16 years since this article was written??  Where is the citizen research and open collaboration where members of the public participate in the scientific process??

Citizen research could well provide the answers!!  500 years of experience in one room with longitudinal documentation.

Samuels goes on to mis-categorize the dolphins on Hawaii as “unhabituated” as to contact with humans!! Totally false.  I have direct first order communication from the late Kahunas of Hawaii that the dolphin populations of Hawaii have been interacting with humans from the 1930s, in their era, and for many years before that, in the oral tradition and history.

The Conclusions and Recommendations of these commissioned authors FAIL to be based on science!

Individually and collectively as a spokesperson for the dolphin community as to science based policy, as spokesperson for the Hawaiian people through the oral tradition of the kahunas, as an interested citizen and community member in the human-dolphin connection, I request that NOAA step back from its position of moving forward with enforcement policy to allow policy makers to review the gaps in the science that spurred the 2000 “recommendations” to be made into proposed policy. Postpone any action until the needed citizen science is supported and accomplished. More time is needed for the community to respond and work WITH NOAA to accomplish a harmonious and mutually beneficial resolution.  

Laura Moiré, MD, FACEP, FAAEM


Does NOAA intend to truly protect dolphins?
1- NOAA doesn't do any comprehensive scientific research; as NOAA refuses to observe Dolphins underwater
2- It is known that NOAA is controlled by the Navy and and authorizes the National Marine Fisheries Service to issue permits to kill Dolphins.  
3- So NOAA allows the killing of dolphins while harassing the freedom of people to swim with dolphins
4- what NOAA do for the regulation of chemicals that kills bees and so poison our waters from run-off pollution in the ocean?

Here is another EDUCATIVE ALTERNATIVE, a WIN-WIN plan which will be acceptable for everyone and
will reveal more about Human-Dolphin Behavior:

- NOAA could put a rope with buoys across HALF of 2 bays out of the 4 = Swimmer Zone + Dolphin Zone
- The section reserved for Dolphins to be with no boats nor swimmers + a section for humans to be FREE swimming 
- Dolphins would have the rights to swim in any sections but human will be restricted to their only section
These beaches will become very educative observation lookouts!

This is A Diplomatic, Fair and Educational proposal for all and good faith solution.
with due respect for NOAA, a win-win compromise for the "no-party" and the “yes-party"


Jean-Luc Bozzoli ( resident in the Pacific Islands for 48 years )
with 41 years of observation and “unconventional” Dolphin-communication 
( ie; Art / co-creative transmission and extra-perception development )


Aloha, I am a Certified Professional Midwife in Kona, Hawaii and am an avid swimmer, snorkeler, free-diver and SCUBA-diver. I am extremely passionate about the ocean, and all of nature. Swimming freely in the ocean with all of the ocean animals is a deep part of my religion and spirituality.

I have swam with the Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins hundreds of times, as well as bottlenose and spotted dolphins. I usually swim from the shore at Kealakekua Bay, Honaunau Bay, Ho'okena and Kailua Bay. I have also worked as a Dolphin Swim Guide off of boats and chartered boats where we have been blessed with dolphin swims and interactions. I have a very strong personal and spiritual connection with the dolphins. It is called the Dolphin-Human Connection. 

Dolphins are so very social and often come directly to me in the water. Sometimes they are not interested in interacting, and in these instances, I respectfully observe them and enjoy my time in the ocean. Typically when I am in the water with the dolphins I observe one group resting and one group, usually smaller, playing very actively with each other, making sounds, mating and connecting with me and other humans present. The resting dolphins do so with ease and without stress even when I am close and I am very careful not to disturb them. I have never seen a human in the water cause the dolphins to have difficulty coming up to breath. When I say "connecting with me" I mean swimming directly with me by twirling together in the water i.e. "dancing” belly to belly, or side by side and spiraling together in the water. The dolphins bob his or her head when I bob mine and look at me directly in the eye. They play what we call the "Leaf Game": the dolphins bring me leaves: they carry them on their dorsal or pectoral fins or beak and swim directly at me and then drop them close to me, then they swim away and come back to quickly take the leaf again when I drop it in a new spot. One time I noticed a dolphin playing with a large sheet of plastic. It concerned me as I did not want it to cover the dolphin's blow hole and I don’t like to see plastic in the ocean. I took it away from the dolphin and she was noticeably disappointed. When I got back to shore I saw it was a large plastic apron. 

I am very conscious and careful to swim “like a dolphin” and I notice the dolphins feel very comfortable with me: I do not use the overhand "crawl" stroke and I keep my arms close to my side or behind my back. I usually use what I call the "mermaid kick" with my fins: both fins and legs kept together in motion when swimming. 
I never chase the dolphins.

I have observed the dolphins be there one moment and then almost instantly they are gone, across the bay, or departing the bay. 

I have observed dolphins mating many times. On a regular basis, especially in the summer, I observe tiny babies close to their mothers, nursing peacefully or playing. We watch these babies grow, especially if they have unique markings which it makes it easy to point them out.

Humans swimming respectfully with the dolphins are not causing detrimental effects for the dolphins. It is actually the very opposite. The dolphins very obviously enjoy the Dolphin-Human connection and thrive playing and connecting with humans when they choose to. They also thrive interacting with other species of cetaceans such as spotted dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and humpback whales and even sharks. 
I am very against the new proposed rules for many reasons. 

Pollution and the military industry’s sonar are gigantic concerns for the health of the spinner dolphins. Another huge issue is the fishing industries. NOAA should work to combat these monsterous problems that are causing great problems for dolphins. Laws should be put in place to end military sonar, end the dumping of pollution and trash in the ocean, clean the ocean and not allow dolphins to be killed by the fishing industry. Any studies that may have been done that show a decline in the dolphins need to look at these problems first. 

I do agree with more education to the public as well as a permit system to limit the numbers of people and boats near the dolphins. There is a huge difference between the people swimming from shore and the dolphin boat industry that is dropping many people in the water with the dolphin pods, run on gasoline, have loud motors and move quickly to follow or meet up with the dolphins. There must be a separation of the two in the laws. 

While some boat captains and dolphin swim guides educate their clients on proper dolphin swimming etiquette, others do not. While some boat captains are respectful of the dolphins’ space in the water, others are not. 
Implement a permit or license system for the boats that take guests (typically visitors to the island) out into the water to swim with dolphins. Develop a protocol for swimming respectfully with dolphins that is healthy and safe for dolphins, some of which I mentioned earlier. Require education of every boat captain and swim guide on the dolphin swimming protocol. Require each boat to have swim guides to accompany the guests. Require the boat captains and swim guides to require their guests to follow the dolphin-swimming protocol. Limit the number of boats that may be with each pod of dolphins, limit the number of people that may get in the water with the dolphins and limit the time they may be in the water. Use the permit fees for enforcement as well as continuing education. 

Similarly, implement a permit or license system for local shore swimmers. Train the shore swimmers and require the shore swimmers to agree upon the respectful dolphin-swimming protocol that is healthy and safe for the dolphins. In both instances with both boat and shore swimmer permit system, include us local swimmers, boat captains and dolphin swim guides to be a part of the protocol-writing process. If necessary, limit the number of shore swimmers who may be with one pod at a time and limit their time in the water so the dolphins have time without human interaction and other permitted/licensed swimmers may swim. Elect local leaders in both the boat category and shore swimming category to work with NOAA to identify and resolve issues and problems with the permit/licensing system and the respectful dolphin-swimming protocol. Allow those who are interested in being a leader to apply for the position. 

Implement a system where local trained and permitted/licensed shore swimmer-leaders may take a number of tourists out in the water from the shore to swim with the dolphins after the tourists have been trained by the local leader on proper dolphin-swimming protocol. Again, the time may be limited as to provide the dolphins with alone time or for other swimmers to have a turn. 

Again, fees collected from the permits can be used for continuing education and enforcement. If a boat captain or shore swimmer does not follow protocol, their permit/license can be taken away and they will lose the privilege of swimming with dolphins/taking their clients out to swim with the dolphins. 

With the proposed new rules, enforcement is a big concern. I am curious how this proposed law can be enforced. We all know the DNLR and the local police are unable to handle the work they already have and enforcement of the proposed laws seems close to impossible. 

The fact that these new proposed laws are focused on a singular species, the Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins, is a huge concern. If boats are prohibited to swim with the Spinners, what is to stop them from seeking out other species such as Spotted dolphins and Bottlenose dolphins.

I greatly appreciate NOAA’s concern with the health of the Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins. I, too am absolutely committed to the dolphins’ health, as well as the health of the entire ocean, the whole earth and all the living creatures on land, air and sea.

There is much more work to be done with more thorough studies and much more to consider before more laws are set in place in regards to humans swimming with dolphins on the coast of the Hawaiian Islands. Please do not implement these proposed laws.
Mahalo nui loa, 
Darby Louise Partner, CPM 9/9/16



I am writing because I am away the month of September and unable to attend any of the meetings this month about the proposed regulations regarding swimming with the Hawaiian spinner dolphins. 

I appreciate your concern for the health and well-being of the Hawaiian spinner dolphins. I truly believe that everyone who is participating in this dialogue cares about the well-being of the dolphins, and wants the best for them. And it seems that there are different opinions of what that might look like. I hope that all sides can be heard and respected, and that we can find a solution that feels appropriate.

As one who has been swimming with the spinner dolphins in the wild for 25 years, I am passionate about the health and well-being of the ocean and all life in the ocean, especially the cetaceans. I donate money monthly to non-profit organizations that work with improving the quality of the oceans. And I find that those who experience swimming with the wild spinner dolphins become caring and passionate stewards of the cetaceans and our oceans. 

I am concerned and surprised that NOAA and the NMFS are focusing on individuals swimming with the Hawaiian spinner dolphins, when there is great harm being done to the spinners and other dolphin species by other more deadly practices that need attention. A few examples are: the sonar testing being done by the Navy, offshore drilling by oil companies, tuna fishing practices that still catch dolphins in the nets, overfishing that depletes the dolphins’ food supply, capture of dolphins for captive dolphin facilities, and the massive pollution from plastics, sewage, and chemical dumping, oil spills, etc. Any of these issues cause much more harm, and even death, to dolphins and other marine life and require attention.

In my 25 years experience swimming with the spinner dolphins, they always choose whether they want to interact with humans. If they are in an active mode, they initiate contact with me and others. They are curious and playful by nature, and enjoy interacting with us. If the dolphins do not want to connect, they don’t come near us, and they swim much faster than we ever could.

When the dolphins are in rest mode is the real concern—are swimmers interfering with their rest? I mostly swim from shore in three bays, Kealakekua, Honaunau and Ho’okena. What I have observed is that when the dolphins are resting, they swim slowly in circles, deep in the water, 30-60 feet or more below the surface. Most swimmers stay on the surface, or dive at the most about 15 feet. When the dolphins come to the surface to breathe, they will often choose exactly where the swimmers are floating to surface. If the dolphins were feeling stressed by the humans, I doubt that they would surface where the swimmers are. The bays are large enough that they could stay completely away from the swimmers.

Because the dolphins initiate contact with us, and even bring us leaves for us to play with them, my experience is that they want the contact with us. Most people are respectful in their interactions, swimming with their arms by their sides and not chasing, rather letting the dolphins come to them. Where that isn’t the case, what is needed is education, because they don’t know any better. Many of us who swim regularly with the dolphins will approach anyone who is aggressive towards the dolphins and let them know how to be with the dolphins. Most are grateful for the information and change their behavior immediately.

Education on how to respect marine life is really key, and I suggest that the emphasis of any forward movement  include a large educational component on how to interact respectfully with the dolphins, especially on the dolphin swim boats. A few suggestions would be:  on flights, having Hawaii visitors view an educational video on dolphin-swim etiquette, brochures in local hotel rooms, educational talks on the boats and using swim guides, and instructional signs at the bays.

In terms of regulations, because there has been no conclusive studies stating that swimming with dolphins affects the survival and fitness of the Hawaiian spinner dolphins (see studies quoted by NMFS website), to ban all swimming with the spinners with huge fines and possible jail time seems extreme. And it would have a huge impact on the island economy, because many tourists come to swim with the dolphins, spending money on accommodation, restaurants, retail outlets and other local businesses. 

What is clear is that the dolphins usually rest between 10am-2pm. If a regulation needs to be made, I’d suggest the 10am-2pm time to limit swimming with the dolphins in the bays and from the boats. Try that out and see if there is any change in the dolphin resting behavior and their behavior towards humans.

Another area of regulation might be to limit the number of boats that are with the dolphins at any given time, or  to limit the number of people that can be in the water at the same time, either by limiting the number of boats, or how many people can be on each boat. And of course providing education on respectful swimming procedures.

There needs to be more research investigating the health and population growth of the spinner dolphin population on the east coast and other waters of the island before such stringent regulations as you are proposing should be considered. With only speculation and no proof that the health and well-being of the dolphins is being compromised by humans being in their resting areas doesn’t justify eliminating the dolphin swim and boat observation opportunity we are fortunate to have here on the Big Island. 


Kathleen Carr



Aloha NOAA:

We, who swim amongst dolphins are the strongest advocates for Cetacean rights and consider them extremely intelligent sentient beings to respect and learn from.

After more that 20 years being in the water with dolphins I've observed the dolphins always dictate when they choose to interact with people. If they do not want it, there is no way to be with them. Contrary to the mindset of NOAA, they are NOT dumb animals.

This fact is not acknowledged nor even considered in the NMFS regulation while their evidence of harassment is purely speculative and based upon only surface observation - never in the water and seeing what's actually happening. Such research is a joke, observing only from the surface less than 10% of actual dolphin activity. These research teams have been funded by the Navy and Captive industry to ensure their own continued abuse of cetaceans is unabated by an informed public.

Wikipedia describes your agency thusly:
“NMFS conserves and manages marine fisheries to promote sustainability and to prevent lost economic potential.
The agency also attempts to balance competing public needs for the natural resources under its management.
NMFS has the primary responsibility to conserve and manage marine activities in the U.S. exclusive economic zone - 200 miles beyond local state waters. “
Yet, here you are on our shores and in our face!
During her confirmation hearing as the NOAA Administrator, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, called the relationship between NMFS and those whom it regulates "seriously dysfunctional."

It’s all a smokescreen! This whole scam of "protecting the dolphins/whales from humans" is a political maneuver to draw attention away from NMFS permitting the unbridled assault and slaughter of cetaceans by the military/industrial complex and captive dolphin enterprises, by pretending that they actually care about their well being.

One has only to monitor the frequent dolphin activity at the mouth of the harbor to see that they are undisturbed by this constant human traffic on boats and in the water. They come regularly to interact with tour boats while still resting, breeding and nursing, even with as many as 5 Tigersharks hanging out in the same area. Yet, no injury has ever been reported while the pods appear to greet the tour boats and demonstrate excitement, not stress, to anyone interested in watching.

The latest population count over the past 5 years shows no decrease in size and local professionals who go out every day have testified that the resident pods are actually increasing in size. So, what’s the problem?

After more than 30 million years surviving on Planet Ocean, I think they know how to take care of themselves and don't need protecting from the same organization that permits MILLIONS of cetaceans to suffer at the hands of the Navy, Tuna Industry, Oil Industry, Shipping Industry, Captive Industry and chemical pollutants not to mention a wasteland of plastic garbage the size of Texas in the north Pacific.

Our dolphin-friendly community have stood up to these powerful offenders and are now paying the price for our protests with this outrageous and hypocritical proposed regulation.

Douglas Dolphinus



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