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Going out for a morning spin with the spinner dolphins of Puerto Princesa.

There wasn’t a whale shark trip so I joined Toto’s dolphin watching boat to photograph the resident spinner dolphins that can always be found a short distance from Puerto Princesa. I’ve seen them many times here before, but just as with the whale sharks you can never tire of watching them and being exhilerated by them. They are a small-sized dolphin found in nearly all tropical and sub-tropical waters.

Like most dolphins spinner dolphins are very lively and challenging to photograph, and keep your reflexes sharp. There are endless combinations of positions to capture images of them.

Like most dolphins spinner dolphins are very lively and challenging to photograph, and keep your reflexes sharp. There are endless combinations of positions to capture images of them.


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What sets them apart from other dolphins is their habit of spinning in the air. In one astounding leap into the air, they can spin around up to seven times. With underwater movie footage and a mathematical model, scientists can now explain just how they manage the acrobatic feat. Before takeoff, the animal begins its spin underwater. Using its flippers like wings, it starts a gentle barrel roll. The movement is slow because the dolphin’s fin and flippers drag against the water, which adds a lot of resistance. In one astounding leap into the air, they can spin around up to seven times. With underwater movie footage and a mathematical model, scientists can now explain just how they manage the acrobatic feat. Before takeoff, the animal begins its spin underwater. Using its flippers like wings, it starts a gentle barrel roll. The movement is slow because the dolphin’s fin and flippers drag against the water, which adds a lot of resistance. Once a dolphin breaks the surface, everything changes. As it enters the air, the dolphin sheds all of the resistant forces that slowed it down in the water; and that’s when things really get dizzy. Airborne, the spinner dolphin can make up to seven revolutions in as little as a second.

They launch themselves into the air at great speed when performing their spin.

They launch themselves into the air at great speed when performing their spin.


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Capturing a good photo of a spinning dolphin is always a challenge. They don't do it repeatedly so you usually only have one or two chances. After reaching a maximum height they fall on either their back or their side.

Capturing a good photo of a spinning dolphin is always a challenge. They don’t do it repeatedly so you usually only have one or two chances. After reaching a maximum height they fall on either their back or their side.

The captivating spectacle of watching spinner dolphins performing.

The captivating spectacle of watching spinner dolphins performing.


Nobody knows for sure why spinner dolphins spin. There could be all kinds of reasons: to display dominance, to communicate their location, to hunt, or just for fun. It could also be an easy way to shake off fish taking a free ride. Remoras, fish with dorsal fins that acts like suction cups, stick to sharks and whales; I saw one today with a remora on its belly. The suckers add extra drag to a dolphin’s streamlining and probably irriate them because dolphins have sensitive skin with a lot of nerve endings. Anyway, for whatever reason, it’s a very entertaining spectacle!!
For more information about these dolphin watching trip from Puerto Princesa, Palawan please contact Toto at Dolphin and Whales Travel and Tours/Facebook
Tel +63 915 263 2105 – email totodolphin@yahoo.com or dwhalestraveltours@yahoo.com

I always love watching the dolphins swim just beneath the surface and how their streamlined bodies are distorted into weird abstract paintings.

I always love watching the dolphins swim just beneath the surface and how their streamlined bodies are distorted into weird abstract paintings.


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Like many species they like to swim right in front of the bow and seem to enjoy racing with the boat. They have a particularly long beak and are sometimes referred to as the long-snouted dolphin.

Like many species they like to swim right in front of the bow and seem to enjoy racing with the boat. They have a particularly long beak and are sometimes referred to as the long-snouted dolphin.


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