Wild Dolphin Days, an annual event celebrating the wild dolphins of Maui County, will be held on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 11 and 12. The weekend will include a free Wild Dolphin Sand Sculpture Contest that's open to the public, plus a free talk about dolphin research and a Wild Dolphin Photo Safari cruise with Pacific Whale Foundation (PWF) researcher Betsy Davidson and wildlife photographer David Fleetham. The weekend is hosted by PWF. (See "Wild Dolphin Days Events' Schedule" sidebar on page 15.)
"While Wild Dolphin Days is an annual event, this year is special because it marks the 10th anniversary of the passage of a landmark Maui County law that bans the display of captive dolphins and whales," said Greg Kaufman, executive director and founder of PWF. "The bill was introduced and championed by then Maui County Councilmember Jo Anne Johnson Winer.
PWF supported the proposed law and helped to generate the groundswell of enthusiastic support from around the world, including letters from Lauren Shuler-Donner and Richard Donner (producers of "Free Willy") and country rock star Bonnie Raitt.
"We were told that this bill generated more mail than any other measure before the Maui County Council," added Kaufman. "The Maui County Council passed the measure unanimously in 2002, and as a result, dolphins and whales will always live free in Maui County. "
Maui County was the 17th city or county in the U.S. to ban displays of captive cetaceans.
PWF has conducted wild dolphin research off the coasts of Maui and Lana'i since 1996, and has photoidentified dozens of individual dolphins.
"As part of Wild Dolphin Days, we will be encouraging the public to watch dolphins responsibly," said Kaufman. "We'll be sharing our 'Be Dolphin Wise' guidelines with the public and the boating community to raise awareness about the need to protect these animals, especially when they come into bays to rest during the day."