Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Surrounded by wildlife

This morning we had a whale watching tour on our catamaran "Cetus". The sea was a lot calmer than it has been in recent days so we could all enjoy the cruise along the south coast of São Miguel Island. Not far out of Ponta Delgada marina we had our first encounter with a group of common dolphins. The common dolphins were surrounded by many seabirds (we spotted Cory's shearwaters, common terns, roseate terns, yellow-legged gulls and great black-backed gulls) that were diving among the dolphins. We were lucky to view an incredible feeding frenzy as the dolphins and seabirds were both hunting a school of mackerel just beneath the surface. We watched them for a while, enjoying the way the dolphins were also watching us, often rolling on their sides and looking straight up at the people on our boat. After the common dolphins we encountered a nice group of bottlenose dolphins that were also eager to swim around our boat. It was nice to see the size difference between the two species, with the bottlenose dolphin being much larger. In this group we saw a juvenile leaping alongside its mother. Our vigia (onshore lookout) did spot a few whale blows during the morning but we were not lucky enough to encounter the whales this time. Nevertheless, we had some great moments with the dolphins and seabirds that surrounded our boat. Following are some photos from this morning's tour:

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Birds hunting with the dolphins

Two common dolphins with dark sides - not yellow,
one is very dark and the other got a little bit more yellow

Common dolphins surfing in the waves

Common dolphin

Bottlenose dolphins

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