This IMMA is designated on the basis of the presence of a small, resident population of Hawaii Island spinner dolphins, which are genetically distinct and occur predictably during the day in four bays (Makako, Kealakekua, Honaunau and Kauhako) along the Kona coast of Hawaii. Recent research demonstrated that Hawaii Island spinner dolphin abundance is small and that population size may be declining. Hawaii spinner dolphins are less likely to rest outside of their preferred resting bays, indicating the importance of these circumscribed areas. Their constrained behavioural schedule may make them less resilient to disturbance, and they are exposed to human activities (<100m) for 82.7% of day time hours within their resting bays.
Description of Qualifying Criteria
Criterion B: Distribution and Abundance
Sub-criterion Bi: Small and Resident Populations
Genetic analyses has shown that the spinner dolphins of Hawaii are distinct from other spinner dolphin populations/sub-species in the Pacific region (Andrews, 2009), and the Hawaii Island spinner population is the most genetically isolated population in the Hawaiian archipelago (Andrews et al., 2010). Recent research on the Hawaii Island spinner dolphins consisted of a rigorous and systematic sampling regime that collected photo-id data on the animals and clearly demonstrated that the spinner dolphins using the bays in the IMMA are present in small, resident populations. Using POPAN mark-recapture models two consecutive annual abundance estimates were generated (Tyne et al., 2014b, Tyne et al., 2016), of 631 (95% CI: 524-761 – Tyne et al., 2014) and 668 (95% CI: 556-801 – Tyne et al., 2016). These estimates are lower than any previous published estimates, 960 (Norris et al., 1994), 2,334 (Ostman, 1994) and 855 – 1,001 individuals (Ostman-Lind et al., 2004), which may be an indication of a possible long-term impact.
Sub-criterion Bii: Aggregations
Each of the resting bays in the IMMA can have aggregations of resting Hawaii Island spinner dolphins present on a daily basis throughout the year (Norris et al., 1994, Thorne et al., 2012, Tyne et al., 2015).
Criterion D: Special Attributes
Sub-criterion Di: Distinctiveness
Genetic analyses has shown that the spinner dolphins of Hawaii are distinct from other spinner dolphin populations/sub-species in the Pacific region (Andrews, 2009), and that there are genetic distinctions throughout the Hawaiian archipelago (Andrews et al., 2010). The Hawaii Island spinner population is the most genetically isolated population in the Hawaiian archipelago (Andrews et al., 2010). As a consequence, spinner dolphins in Hawaii have been divided into five different island/island-group management units under the US Marine Mammal Protection Act 1972 (MMPA, 1972) by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) that correspond with two broad geographical regions: 1.) three in the Mainland Hawaiian Islands: Hawai’i Island, Oahu/4-Islands area, Kauai/Niihau, and 2.) two in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands: Pearl & Hermes Reef and Kure/Midway.
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Heenehan, H. L., Van Parijs, S. M., Bejder, L., Tyne, J. A. and Johnston, D. W. 2017a. Differential effects of human activity on Hawaiian spinner dolphins in their resting bays. Global Ecology and Conservation, 10, 60-69.
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MMPA 1972. Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. 16 U.S.C. et seq. and 50 CFR part 216.
NOAA 2005. Protecting spinner dolphins in the main Hawaiian Islands from human activities that cause ‘‘Take,’’ as defined in the Marine Mammal Protection Act and its implementing regulations, or to otherwise adversely affect the dolphins NOAA 051110296–5296–01; I.D.102405A.
NOAA 2016. Protective Regulations for Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act 81 FR 57854 080302361-6677-01.
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Ostman, J. 1994. Social organization and social behavior of Hawaiian spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris). PhD, University of California, Santa Cruz.
Thorne, L. H., Johnston, D. W., Urban, D. L., Tyne, J., Bejder, L., Baird, R. W., Yin, S., Rickards, S. H., Deakos, M. H., Mobley, J. R., Jr., Pack, A. A. and Chapla Hill, M. 2012. Predictive modeling of spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris) resting habitat in the main Hawaiian Islands. PLoS ONE, 7, e43167.
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Tyne, J. A. 2015. A scientific foundation for informed management decisions: Quantifying the abundance, important habitat and cumulative exposure of the Hawaii Island spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris) stock to human activities. PhD, Murdoch University.
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Tyne, J. A., Pollock, K. H., Johnston, D. W. and Bejder, L. 2014b. Abundance and Survival Rates of the Hawai’i Island Associated Spinner Dolphin (Stenella longirostris) Stock. PLoS ONE, 9, e86132.
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