Monday, August 29, 2016

Dolphins and pilot whales

It's another perfect calm and blue summer day in São Miguel, perfect for going out on the water to see the cetaceans of the Azores. We started out the morning with plenty of dolphins for all to see. Some of our boats went to one area to see a group of Atlantic spotted dolphins, while our catamaran went to an area of some Risso's dolphins. We ended up having a very nice encounter with 6 adult Risso's dolphins that were travelling together. We also had a nice group of common dolphins to see and they were great to watch as they were very calm and curious, approaching our boat so we could see them perfectly through the crystal clear water. In the afternoon we started with common dolphins again, but soon received the news that our lookouts had spotted a group of pilot whales further to the east. It turned out to be a big group, with many females and babies in the pod. It was nice to see them, as we haven't encountered them a lot this year. We ended the afternoon nicely with a social and curious group of our resident bottlenose dolphins. 

Photos from the morning:

Risso's dolphins

Watching the Risso's dolphins

Risso's dolphins

Watching the Risso's dolphins

Face to face with a common dolphin

Watching common dolphins

Common dolphin

Photos from the afternoon:

Watching common dolphins

Watching common dolphins

A pilot whale mother with its newborn calf

Pilot whales

Pilot whales

Pilot whale surfacing to breathe

One of our boats with bottlenose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins leaping after us as we leave

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Blue ocean with many dolphins

We had one more day today with really good visibility, the ocean was with a beautiful blue color.

In the morning the whale watching boats encountered two species of dolphins: spotted and striped dolphins. In the different groups of spotted dolphins that we found during the tour we could see many babies and juveniles… there is a baby boom in summer time! The spotted dolphins were really curious approaching to the boat many times. The behavior of the striped dolphin was completely different, they kept the distance with the boat, travelling fast and leaping out of the water many times.
The swimming boat could also see bottlenose and common dolphin, our resident species.

In the afternoon we started with bottlenose dolphins, it was a large group of friendly animals. After this sighting we went to the West and we tried our luck. The look out saw a "big splash" so we went to the area. After being waiting for a while some people could see two animals from the distance, they were beaked whales. We saw them for just a few seconds and we couldn’t see them anymore.  We were really patients trying to find the animal from the “big splash” but we were no lucky this time… nature is not always easy! 

Photos from today:

Atlantic spotted dolphin next to our boat

Dolphin watching

Adult spotted dolphin

Mom and baby spotted dolphin

Striped dolphins jumping

Friday, August 26, 2016

A calm summer day with whales and dolphins

Today was a hot sunny day with a very calm ocean, perhaps the best day we have had so far this year. It was great for being out on the ocean, watching the whales and dolphins of the Azores. During our tours we encountered our resident whale species, the sperm whale, as well as two resident dolphin species: common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins (the famous group of Bubblemaker that we have been seeing here since at least 2006). In the morning we encountered first one big sperm whale that kept going under and popping up, but eventually after waiting a second and then a third whale surfaced, so we ended up with the three together at the surface with our catamaran. In the afternoon when we arrived to the whale area two adults came up together at the same time but in different places, so our zodiac went to one and our catamaran the other, which turned out to be Sussi, a whale we know since 2012 and have been seeing a lot during the past week. Sussi gave us a beautiful tail, as she usually does. During the past week we have been seeing Sussi with a calf and again today after she fluked we spotted the calf a few hundred metres away. We left the calf in peace, returning to shore to finish this beautiful day with the dolphins close to shore.

Photos from the morning:

Sperm whale blow

3 sperm whales together at the surface

The closest thing we saw to a whale tail in the morning

Bottlenose dolphin

Watching the bottlenose dolphins from aboard our catamaran

Watching the bottlenose dolphins from aboard "Song of Whales"

Photos from the afternoon:

The sperm whale we call "Sussi"

Sussi going on a deep dive

The calf we always see with Sussi

Watching common dolphins from aboard our zodiac boat

Watching the common dolphins from aboard our catamaran 

Watching bottlenose dolphins

A playful bottlenose dolphin

Bottlenose dolphins with our catamaran

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

3 Resident species of dolphins and beaked whales

Today we went out in the morning and in the afternoon hoping to see many species of cetaceans and… we did it!

In the morning tour we saw bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins. The bottlenose dolphins were spread out and travelling fast, we could see them playing with the waves. The common dolphins were calmer, travelling together in a group. Our boats for swimming with the dolphins were with them… they had a great time! One of our boats, the Song of whales, was lucky enough to see a group of beaked whales (most likely Sowerby's beaked whales). This was a very special sighting, beaked whales are usually really shy with the boats and they are great divers, spending a lot of time under the water so we don’t see them really often.

In the afternoon we saw the common and the bottlenose dolphins again but we had a new species for the list… Risso’s dolphin! It was a small pod with 5 individuals, all of them adults.  We could see them very well surfacing many times. The Risso’s dolphins with the age become paler (almost white) and they usually have many scars…check the pictures below!

Photos from today:

Beaked whale

Risso's dolphin

Common dolphins

Botllenose dolphins

Happy clients

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A day with a big group of whales

Today we encountered a big group of our resident sperm whales. They were off the coast of Ponta Delgada, out in deep water, although they were not going on deep feeding dives during the day. Instead, they were grouping up at the surface, probably having some social time. In total we encountered at least 10 whales during both our morning and afternoon tours. We also had plenty of dolphins to see throughout the day. In the morning we encountered common dolphins and in the afternoon bottlenose dolphins together in the same area as Atlantic spotted dolphins. It was another great summer day out on the ocean!

Photos from today:

 Sperm whales

Sperm whales with their heads of the of the water (spyhopping)

The last sperm whale of the day - a juvenile

Common dolphin - easy to recognise from its colour pattern
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