This past month has been great for whale watching in São Miguel, Azores. The sea has been calm and settled so we have been able to go to sea every day of May. The first day of the month began with our first blue whale encounter of the year. The rest of the month has been dominated by fin whale encounters, with an occasional appearance of blue whales and sei whales too. The fin whale was the most encountered species. We have seen fin whales on 29 days of the month, and we have recorded encounters with 106 fin whales. Many of these are thought to be re-sightings of the same individuals that are staying around São Miguel for up to a few days to feed along their migration. Over the next weeks we will be examining our fin whale ID photos to confirm the number of different individuals we have encountered.
Another big highlight this month has been a group of orcas (also known as killer whales) that have been visiting us several times during May. This group includes about 10 individuals that have been seen on and off in São Miguel since January this year. We are extremely luck to have seen them so many times, as they are usually very rare to see in the Azores. This is the first report of orcas being re-sighted in the Azores and being seen so many times.
In total during May we have encountered 8 different whale and dolphin species. Below is our sighting graph for this month, showing the sighting frequency (number of days encountered out of all the days we went to sea) for each of the 8 species.
Species sighting frequencies, ordered from most encountered to least encountered:
- Fin whale (Baleanoptera physalus) - 94%
- Common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) - 81%
- Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) - 42%
- Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) - 26%
- Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) - 16%
- Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis) - 16%
- Orca/Killer whale (Orcinus orca) - 16%
- Striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) - 13%
Map of our cetacean sightings