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About Us

We are a team that is passionate about the ocean and creating adventures of a lifetime.

Your Guide

About Your Guide: Captain Nancy Sweatt. A dynamo of many talents, Nancy blends her scientific background as a geologist and oceanographer with years of metaphysical study. Her experience of human cadence gives her a unique understanding of people. Known for her laughter and easy manner, you will be intrigued with her company as she guides you on your journey to renewal and healing.


Formal Training:
B.A. degree in Geology & Oceanography, 1974-78
(studied in the classroom and attended field study in the Bahamas)
NAUI Certified Diver in 1976
PADI Advance Diver in Australia 1982
PADI DiveMaster in 2000
Licensed U.S.G.C. Captain, 2002

About Dolphins

Hawaiian Dolphins: Hawaii is a special place to swim with dolphins in the wild. The most common dolphin to swim with is the Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin.  There are about 700 t0€“ 1000 Spinner Dolphins that call the Big Island water’€™s home.  Dolphins love to swim with people.  Additional dolphins in Hawaiian waters: Spotted Dolphins, who like to swim with us, Pilot Whales, who may swim with us, and small pods of Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins. Rare and very special to see are:  Dense Beaked Whales, False Killer Whales, Pygmy Killer Whales, and extremely rare, but I have swam with the Sperm Whale.  In the winter the Humpback Whales are in the warm sub tropical waters of Hawaii to give birth to their young.

Dolphins, Whales, Porpoises and How Are They Similar and Different?

Dolphins, Whales and Porpoises are called Cetaceans. They are Aquatic or Marine Mammals; thereby, they breathe air, are warm blooded, give live birth and nurse their young and have a wee bit of hair at birth.  There are 64, 75 or 80 different species of Cetaceans, depending on which classification you adopt.  Cetaceans are divided into 2 Suborders: Odontocetes (toothed) and Baleen (Mysticetes &€“ no teeth).  The baleen cetaceans are usually much larger than the toothed whales and dolphins.  Common Baleen whales in the Hawaiian waters are the Humpback Whales.

Dolphins belong to the family Delphinidae. Dolphins possess a distinct beak. Their teeth are conical in shape. Most species of dolphins are larger than porpoises, with the males usually being larger than the females. The family Delphinidae is the largest and most diverse family of the cetacean order and includes 26 living species. Several species of dolphins are found in Hawaiian waters.

Baleen whales – mysticetes, include whales such as the humpback, gray and blue whales. Their primary distinguishing characteristic is the fact that all adults lack teeth, which have been replaced by a series of baleen plates on either side of their jaw. Baleen, also known as “whalebone” is not really bone, but is made of keratin, the same protein substance as our own hair and nails, and the horns of cattle. Some species have over 400 baleen plates; each less than 1/5 of an inch thick. The plates are fringed with hairs along their inner edges and descend like curtains in two rows from the upper jaw. It may help to remember the two different types of whales by knowing that the scientific name for baleen whales, mysticetes, comes from the Greek word “mystax,” which means moustache! The humpback whales migrate home to Hawaii each December and are here for the winter. They will head back north the end of March/April. The mother humpbacks are birthing. The newborns are just precious!

Porpoises belong to the family Phocoenidae. They are generally smaller and a more robust species. The primary physical difference between a dolphin and a porpoise is the shape of the teeth. Porpoise have a spade flat tooth like humans. (dolphins teeth are a round point tooth). Most Porpoise are about 5-7 feet in length. Porpoises have less of a distinct beak, or rostrum. Their foreheads slope almost uniformly to the tip of their snout, and their teeth are spade-like in shape. The family Phocoenidae is rather small, and consists of only six members. There are no porpoises found in Hawaiian waters.

Dolphins, Whales and Porpoises have a relatively long period of parental care and maturation. The gestation period ranges from 9.5 to 17 months. Baby cetaceans are born like all animals, via a birth canal in the female abdomen area. There is almost always a single offspring, which at birth is usually one-fourth to one-third the length of the mother.

Immediately after being born in the water, baby cetaceans must reach the surface to take their first breath. The mother or the midwife pushes the baby to the surface. The newborn dolphins nurse at the surface. The mother floats on her side so that the calf can breathe while nursing.

Later, when the calf is a bit older, it can suckle underwater. The nipples of the mammary glands lie within paired slits on either side of the reproductive opening. The mammary glands have large reservoirs in which the milk collects, and the contraction of the body muscles forces the milk, by way of the nipples, into the mouth of the young. It is a squirting method. The rapid growth rate of most cetaceans is at least partly related to the high calcium and phosphorus content of the milk.

Because cetaceans live in an aquatic environment, they do not need support their own weight thus, they can attain great size. Maximum size sometimes is not reached until many years after sexual maturity. Most species have a potentially long life span, and some individuals are thought to have lived over 100 years.

The Voices and Echolocation of the Cetaceans
Sound is the primary communication system of the Whales, Dolphins, & Porpoise. They have other means of communication, such as touch, sight and telepathic. But none as predominate to their survival and livelihood as sound; both the vocalization as well as their hearing ability. A deaf dolphin is probably a dead dolphin.

The voices of the cetaceans vary widely. There is no more uniformity to their vocal expressions than the species themselves. In a general sense, the odontocetes make two distinctive types of sound. One is the pure tone whistle and pulsed sound, which would include their individual signature whistles, in human terms, “their name€”.

The second is the clicks, used for echolocation, the sound they use to scan their environment and enables them to see holographically with their ‘minds eye’. They are able to emit echolocation clicks at an unbelievable intensity, verging on the finite limit of sound waves. The more intense sound actually produces heat, rather than a higher level of sound.

We do not hear what the dolphins, whales & porpoises hear. Their hearing extends about ten times the upper limit of human hearing. Their brains process sound with tremendous speed. In water, sound is omnidirectional; humans can not detect from where a sound comes from. The cetaceans must have advancement in hearing to enable them to retrieve the direction of sound, in the water.

The baleen or mysticete whales vocalize differently than their toothed dolphins and porpoises.  In general their sound is a lower frequency and longer duration.  The Humpback whales are the noisiest and most imaginative whales when it comes to songs. They have complex, eerie, and beautiful songs that include recognizable sequences of squeaks, grunts, and other sounds. The songs of the Humpback whales have the largest range of frequencies used by whales, ranging from 20-9,000 Hertz. Only males have been recorded singing. They sing the complex songs only in warm waters, perhaps used for mating purposes. In cold waters, they make rougher sounds, scrapes and groans, perhaps used for locating large masses of krill (the tiny crustaceans that they eat).

Dolphin Journeys focuses on the Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins, Pacific Spotted Dolphins and in the winter season, Humpback Whales.
Most cetaceans are gregarious and love to share their joy.  They have been interacting with humans around the Big Island for about 20 some years. The Island of Hawaii (Big Island) has a perfect oceanographic floor for the dolphins.  They like shallow, sandy bottom bays to play, teach their young and sleep in by day.  The Kona Coast with the very narrow continental shelf provides the unique co-habitation of human coastal life and marine mammals living and working in the same environment. The water along Kona is clean as an ocean can be and provides a beautiful home for the dolphins.  Humans have had a small impact on the water of West Hawaii.  The primary industry is fishing and that has been the only threat to the dolphins.

The fisherman have used the dolphins as a means to find the Ahi (Yellow Fin Tuna).  The Spotted dolphins swim with the Ahi in a symbiotic relationship, with dolphins traveling, leaping and playing along the surface and the Ahi below. The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) is designed to keep the fisherman from harming the dolphins.  There is much confusion between the fisherman and those of us who love to swim with the dolphins regarding understanding of the MMPA.  The Marine Mammal Protection Act for dolphins is to protect them from being caught in nets, clubbed or shot by the fisherman.  The purpose of the MMPA is preserving the dolphins for their beauty and recreational enjoyment.  The Marine Mammal Protection Act Endangered Species, such as Humpback Whales is a separate designation.  Endangered species are protected such that humans are required that we stay 100 yards from the whales.  Dolphin Journeys’ intentions are that the dolphins and whales are respected and protected from harm.


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