Sunday, June 29, 2014

7 species today: humpback whale, fin whale, false killer whale, striped dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin and Atlantic spotted dolphin!

Today we started with a humpback whale that gave us a spectacular show with lobtailing, pectoral fins out of the water and a few flukes (check out some of our videos of this on our Facebook Page). This whale was doing "human-watching" as we were doing whale watching as it came close to the boats to check us out. We were eye to eye with a humback whale. This humpback whale was also seen on the 15th of June so it has been hanging around the Azores and we know this by comparing the fluke which is like a finger-print. This is one part of the research that we do, called photo identification, to learn more about the animals we can see here. Later on we encountered two fin whales that were very curious towards our zodiac boat, and in the end curious towards the catamaran Cetus as well. Whales are wonderful creatures but the dolphins sure know how to create a party - a hundred striped dolphins "running" which is the typical behaviour of this species: jumping and leaping out of the water travelling fast and changes in direction all the time. And in the end of the morning, our loyal common dolphins paid us a visit.

In the afternoon we added two different species to our list (Atlantic spotted dolphin and false killer whale) to make a total of 7 species for the day! We started and ended the tour with a small group of the Atlantic spotted dolphins. The humpback whale from the morning was still in the area, again showing its flukes every time it dived, so we had a nice little encounter with this familiar whale. After our humpback whale encounter we went to two fin whales that were travelling together. After a while we noticed some disturbance a little further offshore so we went out to investigate. To our surprise we came across a group of false killer whales and 2 or 3 more fin whales in the same area. We had an impressive show as the false killer whales were travelling at speed, apparently harassing the fin whales. Like orcas (also known as killer whales), false killer whales are known to prey on other species of dolphins and even whales larger than themselves! On our way back to shore we encountered a nice tight group of about 40 bottlenose dolphins, and just when we thought the show was over some playful Atlantic spotted dolphins accompanied our catamaran for a while on our way home. What a fantastic day!

Photos from this morning:

Humpback whale lobtailing

Humpback whale

Humpback whale

Fin whale

Striped dolphin

Striped dolphins, mother and a very young calf

Striped dolphins 

Photos from this afternoon:

Humpback whale dorsal fin (also showing the white pectoral fin through the water)

Humpback whale flukes

Atlantic spotted dolphins

2 fin whales travelling together

False killer whale

False killer whale

Fin whale swimming fast chased by false killer whales

Fin whale

Bottlenose dolphins

Our zodiac with bottlenose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins

Atlantic spotted dolphin racing our catamaran home

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