Friday, March 21, 2014

Blue whale, fin whales, sperm whales and dolphins

This morning the blue whales returned once again to the waters of São Miguel. We had a great sighting to prove that spring has arrived and with it, baleen whales. Shortly after leaving the marina in Ponta Delgada we arrived to an area where our lookout had spotted blows from whales. We saw several blows and footprints (smooth patches of water created by a whale's flukes) however the whales were frequently diving and changing direction, and unfortunately we did not see the bodies well enough to identify the species. Later in the office after talking to our lookout we could confirm that they were in fact two fin whales.

To our delight our lookout spotted another blow 6 miles away, after 30 minutes of travelling we arrived at the area to investigate. The whale surfaced several times in front of our boats and from the blue/grey colouration and spots on the body combined with the high vertical blow we immediately identified it as a blue whale. We can now confirm from our blue whale photo ID catalogue she is a female that was last seen in the São Miguel on April 21st 2010. This is our first ever match for this species! Other marine life sighted this morning include a young Loggerhead turtle approximately 5 years of age.

In the afternoon we saw a sperm whale group of 6 individuals together with bottlenose dolphins. It is always interesting to see different species interacting with each other. There were some well-known flukes and fins among both the whales and the dolphins, we had two female sperm whales "Small u" and "Orca", and in the bottlenose dolphin group we recognised and individual we call "Egípcio".

Photos from the morning:

A blue whale just about to surface

A blue whale tall blow

Blue whale and São Miguel Island

Looking at blue whale footprints

Unidentified baleen whale, which later was identified as fin whale by the look of the blow and dorsal fin. The second largest animal in the world.

Photos from the afternoon:

One of the six sperm whales we saw in the afternoon

A bottlenose dolphin together with a sperm whale

A sperm whale spyhopping, showing its head with the white lower jaw

A sperm whale we recognise (we call her orca) together with a juvenile

A curios sperm whale pair turning to one of our boats

Impressive bottlenose dolphin jumps

A bottlenose dolphin we call Egíptio jumping

A bottlenose dolphin we call Egíptio because of its strange shaped dorsal fin

 Bottlenose dolphins surrounding one of our bats

 Cory's shearwater eating a scabbard fish

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