Monday, March 31, 2014

March 2014 sighting statistics

During the past month the baleen whale season started in the Azores. Every year from about mid March to early June baleen whales (here in the Azores mostly the 3 largest species in the world - blue whale, fin whale and sei whale respectively) pass by the Azores on their annual migration. During March this year we have already had several encounters with fin whales and we encountered our first blue whale on the 21st of March. The blue whale turned out to be an individual that we recognise from 2010 so all of our biologists were very excited to have our first re-sighting of the same individual here in São Miguel!

During this month we have also encountered a group our resident sperm whales and we have had a surprise encounter with some beaked whales also. As usual dolphins have made a regular appearance during all of our tours. The dolphin species we have encountered this past month are common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and striped dolphins. In total we have encountered 7 different whale and dolphin species during March!


Our daily sighting statistics for all species sighted this month are graphed above and listed below:

Common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) - 87%
Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) - 93%
Striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) - 13%
Beaked whale species (Mesoplodon sp.) - 7%
Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) - 7%
Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) - 7%
Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) - 27%

Friday, March 28, 2014

A common dolphin day

This morning our lookout spotted some baleen whales so we headed out to see them. When we arrived to the area of the whales we waited a long time, but unfortunately the whales never surfaced in the area. However, both on our way out to the whale area and on our way back, we had common dolphins everywhere. Again in the afternoon we were surrounded by groups of common dolphins.

Photos from today:


Common dolphin swimming directly towards us

Common dolphin


Our skipper Stan pointing out the dolphins














Yellow legged gull in Vila Franca Islet





Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Surrounded by whales

Today we have many large whales south of São Miguel Island. In the morning we encountered at least 5-6 whales very close to Ponta Delgada where our tours depart from. We encountered 3 fin whales that were travelling together and came across at least two other fin whales and perhaps a couple of sei whales. Basically we were seeing large whale blows all around us and it was difficult to keep track of which whale was which and exactly how many of them there were out there. We also encountered some nice groups of common dolphins to complete the tour.

In the afternoon we resighted a small group of common dolphins close to Ponta Delgada. Further to the west we encountered a group about 25 bottlenose dolphins that we recognised from the past few weeks. Upon searching further offshore we also spotted the blow of a baleen whale, but the whale went under before we could see exactly which species it was and we never got to see it again. However, on our way back to shore we did spot a tiny little loggerhead turtle that was swimming together with a fish.

Fin whale head surfacing - notice the white jaw which is a distinguishing characteristic of this species

Fin whale

Fin whale

Common dolphin showing the distinct yellow colour on its sides


Jumping is fun!


 Common dolphins (adult and juvenile) and a cory´s shearwater flying over them



 Our skipper Mario talking with our clients this morning


 Botlenose dolphin in front of one of our boats

 Our biologist Albert making a video of a loggerhead turtle

Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) swimming with a strange fish under it

Bottlenose dolphin


Our skipper Veríssimo

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dolphin adventures

This morning we had an adventurous ride on two of our zodiac boats. The tour started with an encounter with a small group of common dolphins that were hanging around a mackerel fishing boat just outside of Ponta Delgada where we depart from. There were several small groups of common dolphins spread throughout the area and they appeared to be hunting. Further to the west we encountered a well known group of bottlenose dolphins that we have been seeing here regularly over the past few months. We recognised several individuals in the group from their distinct dorsal fins (we photograph them to keep track of the individuals we see here).

Now for the afternoon the sun has come out so that our clients can enjoy the rest of the day exploring the beautiful island of São Miguel.



Bottlenose dolphins playing in the waves


Bottlenose dolphins


Our skipper Mario


Our biologist Ida showing a bucket full of barnacles we picked up from the water

 Detail of the gooseneck barnacles (Lepas anatifera) living on the bucket


Common dolphins
Loggerhead turtle
Fishing boat

Monday, March 24, 2014

A beautiful spring day with dolphins

This morning we went out on the ocean in full sunshine and enjoyed the company of a group of common dolphins followed by 2 different groups of bottlenose dolphins. Two of our boats were observing while our third boat was swimming with the dolphins. The swimmers were lucky to be able to swim with both species of dolphins during the morning. We hope the great weather and sightings continue as we to full swing into the spring months.



 Our swimming boat with bottlenose dolphins



Bottlenose dolphins




Our boat Alfredo Baleeiro


Our biologist Maite showing pictures of the species we sighted

 Cory's Shearwater flying close to us
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