Pantropical Spotted Dolphins are common in Hawaiian waters. They can easily be identified by numerous small spots covering their entire body, with the number of spots increasing with age. Spotted dolphin calves are born without spots.
Hawaiian spotted dolphins have less pronounced spots in comparison to spotted dolphins from other regions. Almost 16,000 spotted dolphins are believed to inhabit the Hawaiian Islands with separate populations off of Oahu, the four island group that includes Maui, Molokai and Lanai and off of the Big Island.
Spotted dolphin populations resident to these specific island groupings in Hawaiian waters have not been estimated in size. This species is found in a wide range of depths, ranging from shallow near-shore waters to depths of 5,000m.
They have also been observed in schools of hundreds to thousands and to aggregate with both spinner dolphins and yellow-fin tuna. Hawaiian fishermen often refer to them as “leapers” because they make high arcing leaps out of the water.