Thursday, February 25, 2016

A diverse day with whales and dolphins

Today's list of species encountered is very long, a great sign that we are leaving the winter behind and entering the spring, which is a great time for species diversity in the Azores. We started the morning tour with a friendly group of our resident common dolphins. The sea was very calm and clear, almost like a summer's day. We got to see them really well as they were calmly bowriding and looking back at us. Next on the list was a group of almost 100 striped dolphins. As they often do, the striped dolphins were very energetic as they were surfacing in long leaps out of the water, often in unison. It's always great to see this offshore species of dolphin, especially when they put on a show like this. After the dolphins we went a bitfurther from the island in search of a whale that our lookout had spotted for us. It didn't take long before the whale was up and we could see very well it was a fin whale, the second largest animal in the world. Luckily for us its dives were short and it came up for several breaths and showed itself well. After the fin whale some of us also briefy spotted another smaller whale. We didn't see it well so cannot be sure what type of whale it was, but perhaps it was a beaked whale or a minke whale. As for non-cetacean species, in the morning we also encountered a very small swordfish, several marine birds and a fairly large loggerhead turtle. As we were watching the turtle we noticed it was behaving strangle, trying to come very high out of the water. We took in aboard to examine it for any signs of injuries or entanglement in fishing gear or plastic, but it seemed to be ok so we let the turtle go its own way.

Photos from the morning:

Going out in the morning, enjoying the sun on the top deck of the catamaran 

Common dolphins bowriding and looking back at us

Striped dolphins leaping

A fin whale surfacing to breathe

The fin whale curving its back to go on a dive

Watching a loggerhead turtle

Checking the turtle for injuries or entanglement in marine debris

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