Every year, people travel to Fernando de Noronha, a group of islands off the coast of Brazil, to meet some of the archipelago’s most famous residents: spinner dolphins:
The spinner dolphin is a tropical oceanic dolphin that lives in groups numbering three to more than two thousand individuals. Of the 37 different dolphin species, it is the third most abundant in the world and is named for its tendency to shoot out of the water and complete as many as seven rotations whilst airborne.
The dolphins usually surface during boat rides, showing off their acrobatics skills as they leap out of the water and putting on a real show. The stunts they perform are more than simply fun; they’re an important form of signalling, drawing the attention of the boat, which, in turn, protects the rest of the pod from potential predators. The communication system consists of different types of jumps and beats made with the body on the surface of the water, producing turbulence when the dolphin completes its dive.
The daily routine for the spinner dolphins in Fernando de Noronha involves feeding, primarily during the night, followed by a morning relocating to the appropriately named Dolphins Bay. They arrive in the bay at sunrise and depart for various feeding areas in the afternoon.
Dolphins Bay (Baia dos Golfinhos), located off Sancho Beach, is a top destination for dolphin spotters. The bay’s waters are the calmest and deepest in the entire archipelago, ranging from 0 to 25 metres but averaging about 15 meters in the centre. The floor of the bay is composed predominantly of volcanic sands with scattered rocks and can be accessed by a single trail that offers a good vantage point from which to observe the activities of the spinner dolphins. One ideal point from which to observe Dolphins Bay is Dolphin Lookout, set 55 metres above sea level. It can be reached via a one-kilometre-long walking trail that begins in a parking lot at Sancho Bay.