Today was an absolutely perfect day! The sea was completely flat and calm like a lake and we had clear skies and plenty of sunshine all day. These are the perfect conditions to spot and watch whales and dolphins. The water was crystal clear so that we could see the dolphins perfectly through the water as they dived around our boats. This made for perfect dolphin swimming too, for the lucky people that booked this activity today. Throughout the day we watched and swam with two of our resident dolphin species: bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins.
For the whale watching tours we also had sperm whales to show all our clients on all three tours that operated today. The whales were close to the island, but right off the eastern end, between Povoação and Ribeira Quente. It meant that we had to travel a long time before reaching the whales, but it was well worth it and we had beautiful views of the south coast of São Miguel Island all the way. The group of sperm whales was one we recognise from previous years. In particular we could easily recognise a small juvenile whale with white marks on its back who we call "Peregrine". We first encountered Peregrine as a small calf in November 2012 with an adult female we call "Elsemiek" (named by a Dutch client after his daughter). We have now encountered Elsemiek and Peregrine together on at least 5 different occasions so we are confident to say that Elsemiek is Peregrine's mother. During our third tour in the late afternoon Peregrine became curious and and spyhopped near our boat and rolled over to look at us. During this late tour we also had a rare encounter with two Sowerby's beaked whales in the same area as the sperm whales and a nice group of bottlenose dolphins. The bottlenose dolphins were very social as they were displaying courtship behaviour. We were very lucky to see this right next to our boat through the crystal clear water. We could actually see one of the large males trying to bite another dolphin!
In summary it was another amazing summer's day in the Azores and the photos will tel the rest:
Photos from the morning tour:
A sperm whale logging at the surface
Sperm whale diving, one of our zodiac boats is in the background
Our boat "Song of Whales" with some curious bottlenose dolphins
Loggerhead turtle - one of many we saw throughout the day
They might look like ducks on a lake, but these are in fact Cory's shearwaters resting on the ocean
One of our skippers João
Approaching Vila Franca Islet on a perfect summer's day
A Portuguese family one one of our boats in the morning
Photos from the early afternoon tour:
Going out to see the sperm whales on our boat "Song of Whales"
Bottlenose dolphin calf surfacing next to its mother
A sperm whale at the surface, with the East of São Miguel Island in the background
An adult female sperm whale that is yet to be named (she is number 104 in our catalogue)
Sperm whale fluke
A sperm whale called "Elsemiek" diving
Watching bottlenose dolphins from aboard Song of Whales
Two Cory's shearwaters taking off
Photos from the late afternoon tour:
Passing Vila Franca Islet
Two large adult sperm whales breathing at the surface
A young sperm whale called "Peregrine" - easy to recognise from the white marks on its back
Sowerby's beaked whales - a rare sighting!
Sowerby's beaked whales
Flying fish taking off!
Flying fish mid flight
Playful bottlenose dolphin jumping in the distance
Eye to eye with a curious bottlenose dolphin
Reflections - a bottlenose dolphin in a perfectly calm ocean
Bottlenose dolphins playing rough - notice the one that is belly up trying to bite the other one!
Just like a lake!
Our skipper Stan
Watching a lone common dolphin
Arriving back after a great few hours at sea