Saturday, August 22, 2015

Fin whales and a familiar sperm whale with a newborn

Today we had some really great encounters with both whales and dolphins off São Miguel Island in the Azores. In the morning we encountered Atlantic spotted dolphins and then two fin whales. During this summer we've had a great run of fin whale encounters, it never really ended after the spring which is the time of the year that we see the majority of this migratory whales passing the Azores. In the afternoon we first encountered a familiar group of bottlenose dolphins, the group that includes an individual we call Bubblemaker because of its bubble blowing behaviour. After this we went further out as we spotted a sperm whale breaching (leaping out of the water) far away on the horizon. We soon arrived to the area to encounter a very big female sperm whale. She was very curious towards us on the catamaran and kept approaching us and rolling over. Then she went under for a few minutes and reappeared with a calf. It was a very small newborn calf and it was wonderful to watch the two of them together and see the big difference in size between the 12 m adult female and the 4 m long baby. After a few minutes we got to see the magical moment of the adult lifting her tail high out of the water to go on a deep feeding dive. As soon as we saw the tail we recognised the whale as one that was named Sumo wrestler by one of our previous biologists. The last time we saw Sumo wrestler was the 23rd of August in 2013, so almost 2 years to the day! After our sperm whale encounter we ended the day in the same way we started, with a small group of Atlantic spotted dolphins.

Photos from the morning:

Atlantic spotted dolphins

Fin whale surfacing

Fin whale diving

Fin whale blow

Photos from the afternoon:

Bottlenose dolphins

The famous bottlenose dolphin we call Bubblemaker

Sperm whale blow

A big female sperm whale we call Sumo Wrestler curiously approaching our boat

Newborn baby sperm whale surfacing next to the adult female

Preparing to dive, notice the bent dorsal fin of the newborn calf

Sumo Wrestler going on a deep dive

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