Thursday, June 12, 2014

Fin whales, Sei whales and dolphins

This morning started with a fin whale, maybe one of those from yesterday. As they migrate, sometimes individuals stay for a few days around São Miguel and we resight them. In time we will compare our dorsal fin photos to see who is who. Some of them have some noticeable markings so we can tell right away if we saw them the day before, others are more difficult to identify and we need to compare  them later on the computer. We also encountered a playful group of bottlenose dolphins, about 40 of them, in a tight group swimming all around us, sticking their cute faces out of the water for us to see. This is always so fun for the kids, but it sure is fun for adults too! At the same time our whale watchers were out on the ocean we had a group of people swimming with dolphins off one of our other boats. They ended up swimming with common dolphins, another one of our resident species here in the Azores.

Our afternoon trip started with another baleen whale, but in this case we had two sei whales, moving straight to the west. We spent quite a long time with them, as they looked they did not care about our presence. We followed them for a while, always respecting them and allowing us to observe them surfacing many times.
Afterwards, we left the area and we found a huge group of common dolphins. They were really playful and curious, approaching all the time to our both boats. But soon we heard from our look-out that we had a fin whale close to the area, so we tried to see it. We could see it a couple of times despite this whale was having long dives. After a while, we decided to get back to the common dolphins, since it was difficult to work with this fin whale.
Back with the dolphins, the group was full of juveniles and we could also see some newborns jumping close to their mothers. But the most special moment was when we saw a very pale common dolphin that was almost completely white! This is known as leucism and is similar to an albino dolphin, except that it is caused in a reduction of all types of skin pigment. We managed it to take pictures of this strange case.

Photos from the morning:

Our catamaran Cetus

Fin whale - the "dark side"

Fin whale - the "bright side"

Fin whale dorsal just before diving

A trail of poo from one of the fin whales (the orange colour is from the krill they eat)

Fin whale surfacing

Bottlenose dolphins - a tight group


Bottlenose dolphin calf surfacing next to its mother

One of our zodiacs today 

Loggerhead turtle see from our zodiac (notice the 2 fish behind it)

In the marina
Photos from the afternoon:
                                      
Leucistic common dolphin surfacing next to a normally coloured dolphin


Sei whale surfacing






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