Dolphin Excursion!

Lanai City Travel Blog

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Exiting port to go on our excursion!
Joyce has a huge, emotional connection to dolphins, and due to her rigorous shunning of witnessing them in captivity, she's never seen one up close and personal before because unless you live somewhere like Florida or Hawaii, the chance of seeing them in the wild is slim to none. Being a responsible, thoughtful individual she will never attend an excursion where they throw food in the water to get the dolphins up close, or swim with them in water parks. I will never do these things too, but mostly because I can't swim! =) Luckily in Maui, there is something called the Pacific Whale Foundation, which is a great organization that does research, ecology, education and preservation.
Dolphins everywhere!!!
I'm always skeptical about Foundations - the cynic in me thinks it's just another tour company wrapped up in the marketing blanket of good stewardship of the environment and perhaps 5% of profits are donated to aligned causes. But I am pleased to tell you that I was completely proved wrong with this one!

The tour started off a bit rough, the lady at the desk checking people in was this messy farmgirl with a voice like a hoarse blowhorn. To say she was rough around the edges would be an understatement. We were meeting a lot of people working in Maui who were originally from Biloxi or some other middle-america town, and this is where I assume she was from. But as soon as we left her, the rest of the tour was AWESOME. It was low season, so when we boarded there were probably about 20 people on a good-sized boat that could probably have held 120.
going to the snorkeling site in Lanai
There were 7 staff members aboard and one captain. The crew was in charge of educating us, mingling, cooking lunch and answering any questions - they were SO NICE and all had higher education in a hard or soft science. I learned so much, but struggled with the Hawaiian names for fishies and islands. Considering how many times I've been to Hawaii and how many tours I like to take, the fact that I learned anything new was amazing! This Foundation seems unique and staff is very educated and kind.

The Lanai Dolphin excursion takes about 7 hours, and searches for pods of dolphins before and after a quick snorkeling stop. The Captain was AMAZING at spotting them, it's takes quite some skill to make out where they are - like a safari on the water. Many excursions will do awful things like plow into a pod of dolphins, and then proceed to throw food overboard so they'll stick around longer.
Do you see the baby dolphin on the left!?!
But Pacific Whale Foundation will basically go towards a pod, cut the engines and then let the boat drift to a safe distance of the the dolphins. As dolphins are naturally curious, they will swim up to us to check things out, and then quickly swim past. But for approximately 5 minutes, you can see them do amazing things in their natural environment, such as jump out of the water, breach (or is that term just for whales?!) and on this wonderful, wonderful day, we actually saw a baby dolphin!!!!!!!!!

It was pretty funny, I have to say. I got so excited when the dolphins started swimming towards the boat that I must've looked like a madman just snapping my camera at arm's length as I spastically pointed with the other while jumping up and down. It was so exciting and I had to calm down to actually look through the viewfinder and take pictures.

It's impossible not to appreciate these beautiful creatures =) And once again, having seen them first in captivity, and then out here in the wild.. it's difficult not to realize what a difference there is. I can't help but be really sad for all animals kept against their will out of their natural habitat, unless for something like rehabilitation or disability.

On the boat ride, we also saw a lot of things flying out of the water! I could not figure out what was going on - these thin, finger-lengthed creatures would be floating on the water for a good length of time and then disappear beneath the surface. I'm not an ocean person, so the first thought in my head was that someone was controlling a little flying toy. I started calling them aliens because I couldn't understand where they came from and how they floated above the water for so long. Turns out, I believe they were flying fish! We also saw another fish that had similar air-bound qualities, but I can't remember the name of it.

Sigh. The ocean is so big and so strange. I envy marine biologists for their ability to analyze and interpret all the wondrous creatures.
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Exiting port to go on our excursio…
Exiting port to go on our excursi…
Dolphins everywhere!!!
Dolphins everywhere!!!
going to the snorkeling site in La…
going to the snorkeling site in L…
Do you see the baby dolphin on the…
Do you see the baby dolphin on th…
Joyce on boat
Joyce on boat
heading away from the port
heading away from the port
Lanai City
photo by: jenn79