Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Bryde's whales are still here!

Today the ocean was a little bit more wavy but we are still seeing baleen whales, the two Bryde’s whales that have been around in the latest days; an adult with a baby we can witness even how fast the baby is growing! A solitary male sperm whale has been seen also in the morning tour; it was feeding that’s why we had the opportunity to see its tail two times; in the afternoon it was not around anymore.
In the morning we observed a very big family of bottlenose dolphins in between the sperm whale sighting.
In between wind and waves we managed to refind our mother and calf of the Bryde's whales again. This is definitely the year of the baleen whales, so many sights since March!

Photos from today:

Big pod of bottlenose dolphins 

Bryde's whale baby exposing its head (the three ridges are visible) alongside its mother
Sperm whale male hyperventilating

Sperm whale male ready to dive

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Plenty of species to watch!

Today was another summer day with plenty of species to watch! The morning tour started with the majestic tail of a male sperm whale, before it went on a deep dive we could enjoy it for a bit at the surface. The dolphins were close to the “whale zone”, there was a group of Atlantic spotted dolphins feeding together with Cory´s shearwater. We know that there was a lot of fish in the area as we could see the bait ball from the boat. When the small schooling fish (in this case probably mackerel) are threatened by predators they swarm in a tightly packed spherical formation about a common centre.  This is a defense mechanism, as lone individuals are more likely to be eaten than an individual in a large group. The next sighting from the morning was really special… Short finned pilot whales! Today was only the second sighting of this summer. The individuals from this family were all swimming side by side, it was a group size between 20-30 animals. On our way towards the island (catamaran Quatro Ventos) we met another pod of Atlantic spotted dolphins feeding, but they approached us immediately to surf in our bow waves as well as in the wake of our boat.

In the afternoon we could saw the same two Bryde's whales that we have been seeing all week. It is a mother and calf pair who are always really nice to watch, as they are very calm and the surface and the calf always surfaces with its head high out of the water. After the Bryde's whales we went for the sperm whales, who were very shy, spending just a few minutes at the surface and then starting a deep dive before the boats could get close. From aboard our catamaran "Cetus" however, we were out later  and had the chance for a second attempt and this time we were lucky to see one of the larges males at the surface for longer, and then see his massive tail as he went down into the depths.

Photos from today:

Sperm whale at the surface

The tail of the sperm whale

The bait ball

Atlantic spotted dolphins

The Bryde whale mother and baby from the afternoon

Monday, August 21, 2017

Shy sperm whalesa and very playful dolphins!

 Today we had a very gratifying day on the South Coast of Sao Miguel Island. In the morning some of our boats had encounters with some shy sperm whales, and, both morning and afternoon we had a dolphin party! Common, bottlenose and spotted dolphins very social, very playful with our boats and in big pods!

Dolphins were very playful and funny

Our swimming with dolphin activity was very successful

Water has an amazing visibility this days

Sperm whale checking us out

Sperm whale diving

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Summer on the ocean

Today was a really hot summer's day, making it perfect to be out on the sea enjoying the ocean breeze and ofcourse the whales and dolphins. The calm and blue conditions were really nice for seeing the animals as well as the views of São Miguel island. In the morning we started with our familiar Bryde's whale mother and calf pair that have been around for almost a week now. As the other days that we have been seeing them, they were travelling very calmly near the surface and occasionally coming up for a breath (in the case of the baby whale it was always coming with its head high out of the water, giving us a great look). we also enjoyed the company of common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins, who were both feeding when we encountered them in the morning. Both dolphin groups were accompanied by Cory's shearwaters and we could see the ball of fish they were feeding on through the crystal clear water. From one of our boats a small group of beaked whales was also seen briefly at the surface. In the afternoon we re-encountered the same Bryde's whales, this time a bit more to the west. Again they were calm and great to watch, so we spent some time enjoying them, before leaving them to continue to the dolphins. We had a big group of bottlenose dolphins very close to the area of the Bryde's whales, and we got to see a range of behaviours and have a very memorable encounter with them before returning to Ponta Delgada.

Photos from today:

Bryde's whales off the coast of Ponta Delgada

Bryde's whales off the coast of Ponta Delgada

Bryde's whale mother and calf pair

Watching common dolphins

Jumping bottlenose dolphins

Bryde's whales in the afternoon, more to the west

Bottlenose dolphins

Cory's shearwater

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Nice day!

Today the sea conditions and the visibility have improved a lot, and the sightings were good as well. Both in the morning and in the afternoon tours we had great sightings. The day started cloudy near the coast and we had to go far to find Sperm whales and a group of Atlantic spotted dolphins. In the afternoon we were travelling towards the same area when one of our lookouts discovered a Bryde’s whale in the area quite close to our boat. After spending some time with the Bryde’s whale we continue toward the west and we found a large pod of Atlantic spotted dolphins, very active and feeding together with Cory’s shearwater.

Loggerhead turtle resting at the surface

Sperm whale fluking 

Bryde's whale

Juvenile Atlantic spotted dolphins

Friday, August 18, 2017

Bryde's whales and dolphins

The Bryde's whale mother and calf pair that we have been seeing the past 2 days are still here. In the morning they were very close to shore and close to Ponta Delgada, as they were yesterday afternoon. Later in the day they were more to the east, but still not far from our base. It's been really nice to be able to see these two whales who are always very calm around our boats. The calf is always surfacing with its head very hight out of the water so we get to see it really well. As well as these whales we also encountered a well known group of bottlenose dolphins throughout the day (the group we refer to as Bubblemaker's group) and also common dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins.

Photos from today:

Playful bottlenose dolphins

Atlantic spotted dolphin

Bottlenose dolphin tail

Bryde's whlale mother and calf (surfacing with its head high out of the water)

Bryde's whale mother and calf

Thursday, August 17, 2017

6 sperm whale males in the morning and 6 species in the afternoon

What a day! On the Catamaran Cetus we started with a special encounter this morning. First we saw big blows in the distance, as we came closer we counted 3 sperm whales travelling at the surface. By their size and their large head, which is bulkier in the bulls, we concluded that they must be males. Normally females form groups and adult males are solitary, so it was a big surprise. Suddenly the number of individuals doubled. Watching six big animals coordinating their travelling in a line formation is not a regular sight at all.
On the zodiacs we also saw common dolphins, spotted dolphins and Bryde's whales during the morning tours.
In the afternoon on the catamaran we found our recently observed mother with her calf, which were the tropical Bryde's whales again, but this time they were not far from the harbour entrance. As we continued our trip we came across Risso's dolphins and a bit later common dolphins. Later we managed to observe five of the big sperm whale males but this time preparing for a deep sea dive. One after the other they "waved goodbye" with their majestic flukes before disappearing in the depths. On our way back we were visited by a pod of Atlantic spotted dolphins. On the zodiacs we sighted bottlenose dolphins which brings the species number up to 6. Topping our average by 4 species!

Photos from today:
Four of the six sperm whale males at the surface in the morning

Bryde's whale mother and calf synchronizing their breathing

Adult Risso's dolphin finishing his exhalation

Common dolphin presenting his colorful hourglass design accompanied by a Cory's shearwater

Two of the sperm whale males fluking

Atlantic spotted dolphin breaching with something in or on it's beak

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

More Bryde's whales

Today we enjoyed the company of more Bryde's whales, again on a beautiful summers day. In the morning they were directly offshore from Ponta Delgada. Two adults travelling slowly and spending long periods of time at the surface. They were very calm and curious around our boats, so that we got to see them really well. Near the Bryde's whales there were also some beaked whales, which some of us got to see before these elusive animals went on a deep dive and were not seen again. They were thought to be Sowerby's beaked whales, one of the 6 beaked whale species we can see in the Azores. The morning tour was completed by a big group of our playful Atlantic spotted dolphins. As usual, the group included a lot of small baby dolphins and they were a real delight to watch. The afternoon was just as great as the morning. This time we encountered the two Bryde's whales from yesterday - the mother calf pair. They were very calm and often curious, and just like yesterday the calf was coming high out of the water so we could often see its eye. As in the morning, dolphins (this time common dolphins) completed the afternoon tour so that everyone went home happy.

Photos from the morning:

Bryde's whale rolling on its side, showing its pectoral fin and tail tip

Watching one of the Bryde's whales

Bryde's whale dorsal

Atlantic spotted dolphins

Atlantic spotted dolphins (mother and calf)

Photos from the afternoon:

Baby Bryde's whale surfacing high next to its mother

Bryde's whale mother and calf (notice the dark eye of the calf)

Watching the Bryde's whales from aboard our catamaran "Cetus"

Watching common dolphins

A big group of common dolphins

A beautiful common dolphin

An encounter with a Cory's shearwater
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