Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An amazing day!

What an amazing day!
Today was a beautiful calm day in São Miguel and we had great whale watching trips in both the morning and afternoon. The following photos from these tours show it all.

Curious juvenile sperm whale spyhopping (raising its head out of the water)

Large adult sperm whale spyhopping

Two sperm whales surrounded by a large group of birds

Bottlenose dolphin (one of our residents known as "Big A")

Watching some of our resident common dolphins

One of the Risso's dolphins seen close to the coast this morning

In the morning we started off with a sighting of two of our resident bottlenose dolphins. It turns out they were the same two dolphins that we saw on our last tour two days ago (see our previous blog post). Throughout the rest of the morning tour we saw several groups of common dolphins and we also had a great sighting of two Risso's dolphins.

In the afternoon we were pleasantly surprised when our vigia (on shore lookout man) informed us that a group of sperm whales had moved into the area. We sighted several of the individuals in this group, starting with a very curious juvenile that came right up to one of our boats and sphyhopped (stuck it's head vertically out of the water as if looking at us). Two larger adults were also seen spyhopping and rolling around at the surface with a large group of birds flying around them (perhaps the birds were attracted by squid or fish that the whales had been feeding on). One of the sperm whales could easily be identified by the white patch it has on top of its back, in front of its dorsal fin, as shown in the following photo:

This is a whale that we refer to as "Orca" because the white patch is similar to the saddle patch that orcas have.

Our lookout also reported that there were pilot whales further to the east of the island in the afternoon. Although they were too far for us to go to them it was really great to know that there was so much wildlife in the area today.

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