Saturday, February 20, 2016

Five fine fin whales

The baleen whale season has officially begun off São Miguel Island in the Azores!
Today we had our first baleen whale encounter, about a month earlier than last year. This year we started the season with fin whales, the second largest animal in the world! When we arrived to the area we though there were two, then we realised there was at least one more, and later on land we could confirm from our ID photos there were in fact five fin whales! What a great way to start our spring time encounters with the great whales. The coming months are the best time of the year to visit São Miguel to see the migrating fin whales, as well as blue whales, sei whales and the occasional humpack whale and minke whale (among other resident and visiting species of whales and dolphins). 

The whales were not the only thing that our clients were treated to on today's tour. Closer to shore we also encountered a group of bottlenose dolphins. It was a very curious and social group of at least 60 individuals. We were all delighted to see not only many juveniles, but also several newborn calves in the group. Like the whales, these baby dolphins are also a bit earlier in the year than is typical, so it was a nice surprise for us to see them. Among the dolphins we also spotted a loggerhead turtle to add to our very complete species list of the tour.

Some photos from today:

Fin whale blowholes

One of the fin whales

Surfacing to breathe

A distinctly marked individual - one of the 5 we encountered

A bottlenose dolphin mother with its calf

Loggerhead turtle

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