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56. Long-Snouted Spinner Dolphins (Stenella longirostris)


Long-Snouted Spinner Dolphins (Stenella longirostris) come closer to the shore during the early hours to rest, play, and mate. In the afternoon, they leave the tranquility of the shallows and head for deeper, open water where they start their post-meridian and nocturnal hunt for schooling fish and squid.

The Long-Snouted Spinner Dolphin is a relatively small and slender dolphin compared to other dolphin species. Within this species, there are several subspecies due to small morphological variations. The species in Mauritius is believed to be the Stenella longirostris longirostris (or sometimes called the Hawaiian Spinner). Other subspecies include the Costa Rican Spinner (Stenella longirostris centroamericana), Whitebelly Spinner (probable hybrid form of eastern and the Hawaiian), Dwarf Spinner (Stenella longirostris roseiventris) and the Eastern Pacific Spinner (Stenella longirostris orientalis).

They are named after their acrobatic spinning leaps, during which they can propel themselves more than 3m/10ft out of the water and spin up to seven times around their own axis before falling back into the water. These aerial acrobatic manoeuvres and the impact with the water are believed to be a form of communication.

They often travel together with schools of big fish such as tunas. Unfortunately, they frequently end up in tuna fishing nets, leading to their drowning. Thousands of dolphins die each year for our appetite for tuna sandwiches. Although new fishing techniques have reduced this by-catch, the number of cetaceans that die each year remains shockingly high. Due to the tuna fisheries, they are now globally endangered.


When capturing underwater videos, it is always a bonus to include some out-of-the-water footage. Footage of cliffs, a rocky cape, waves crashing into the shoreline, a beautiful sunset, or sunrise all contribute to your final video. Since the commercialisation of small drones equipped with high-resolution cameras, aerial footage is often used in wildlife videography.

Flying drones over water comes with several additional challenges compared to flying over land. Generally, the conditions over water are quite different than on land; a combination of factors such as increased wind speeds, potential disorientation, the inability to estimate distance, and the impossibility of immediate landing in case of an emergency makes it very challenging for the pilot.

As a safety precaution when flying over a large body of water, I use the same principle as gas use in cave diving: a golden rule to avoid running out of battery during the flight. By using one-third of the battery power to reach your subject and film it, and another third of the battery power to return to the base, you'll have one-third of battery power left as emergency power. Fly and film until your battery level indicates that you have approximately 66% of power left, and then return your drone to the safety of the land or vessel. You need to be aware that if your drone accidentally lands in the ocean, chances are that it will be broken beyond repair and thus lost forever. Saltwater and electronics don't mix!

Filming the water surface also presents an extra photographic challenge: light reflection. The water surface often acts like a huge mirror, reflecting light in different directions. These reflections can be easily managed by using a polarising filter in combination with filming your subject from the right angle. Light reflections are impossible to remove in post-production, so prevention is key.

Filming location:

This short underwater videoclip has been filmed in Mauritius 🇲🇺

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