Monday, September 29, 2014

Well known whale tails

This morning we encountered many sperm whales. It was a group that we recognise from previous encounters over the years. From aboard our catamaran our biologist photographed the tails of 5 different whales of which 4 can be identified from the natural marks on their tails. During our all tours we record encounter data and take ID photos to keep track of the individuals we see. All 4 tails were already in our catalogue so we know these whales well. One of them who has been seen in São Miguel regularly since 2008 has a distinct white saddle patch on her back and is known as "Orca". Another one has white marks all over the underside of her tail and is known as "Whiteout". The other two have been sighted several times since 2010 but do not have nicknames yet. All individuals in our catalogue have a unique ID number so we can keep track of the individuals and groups we see here. Sperm whales are very social whales who form groups with other closely related individuals and the whales we saw today have been seen together in the past so they have formed a stable group. Of course it's always nice to see dolphins too, but they were not seen by all today. One of our whale watching boats came across a small group of common dolphins whereas our dolphin swimmers found both common dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins. As for the rest of us, we were very happy to spend our morning in the presence of the sperm whales.

Photos from today:

A whale called Whiteout

Our zodiac with a sperm whale adult and calf pair. The calf is coming up with its head out of the water

Enjoying the ride back aboard the zodiac

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