Protected Resources

Enhancing Protections for Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins to Prevent Disturbance - Proposed Rule and Draft Environmental Impact Statement

Kealakekua Bay: Resting habitat for Hawaiian spinner dolphins

Kealakekua Bay: Resting habitat for Hawaiian spinner dolphins

Resident populations of Hawaiian spinner dolphins feed offshore throughout the night and return to Hawaii's coasts to rest during the day. Because Hawaiian spinner dolphins rest in Hawaii's sheltered bays and along its coastlines and are one of the most easily encountered cetaceans in the waters of the Main Hawaiian Islands, they are vulnerable to disturbance and harassment. Dolphin-directed activities have grown dramatically in recent years, and the easily accessible Hawaiian spinner dolphins face heavy and increasing pressures from people seeking a dolphin experience. Chronic disturbance to resting activities can negatively affect the health and fitness of dolphins.

NOAA Fisheries is proposing to enhance protections for Hawaiian spinner dolphins to prevent disturbance and harassment from dolphin-directed human activities. The proposed rule would prohibit swimming with and approaching a Hawaiian spinner dolphin within 50 yards by any means (vessel, person, or other object) and would be implemented within two nautical miles from shore of the Main Hawaiian Islands and in designated waters between Maui, Lanai, and Kahoolawe where spinner dolphins are found throughout the day.

The proposed rule is based on the preferred alternative (Alternative 3A) in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Other alternatives considered include the following:

Key Documents:

Can I Still Submit Comments?

The public comment period is closed.


To learn about current and past research on human impacts to the Hawaiian spinner dolphin please view the following:

To learn more about the potential impacts of swimming with wild spinner dolphins, please visit our Swimming with Wild Spinner Dolphins web page.


2007 Scoping Process

Public scoping meeting, Oahu

To learn about the results from the October/November 2006 public scoping meetings, please view the following:

Educational Materials