Friday, August 19, 2011

It was an exciting trip for passengers and crew alike this morning as we had our first sighting in nearly four months of a large male sperm whale we call "Mr Liable"! He has been sighted in these waters since 2008 when we first started our photo ID catalogue of the sperm whales we see on our trips, so has possibly been visiting São Miguel for much longer.

We can identify individual sperm whales by their tail flukes and any distinguishing marks on their bodies, which is why we photograph every sperm whale we see lifting its tail as it dives. By comparing these photos with our ID catalogue we can recognise individuals and learn more about their movements. This particular whale for example was last seen May 2nd this year - like many male sperm whales he visits this breeding ground periodically to breed and rarely stays long. The majority of our sightings here are females sperm whales and their young.

Our boats are still out this afternoon so we're looking forward to hearing whether they have another encounter with this large whale (we estimate him to be about 18 metres long!) - plus the other species we observed this morning, Atlantic spotted dolphins.

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