Today's highlight encounter was with a rather unusual species of dolphin - the Risso's dolphin. Although they are resident here, they are encountered less frequently than our 3 other resident species of cetacean (whales and dolphins). Compared to the other more well known dolphin species Risso's dolphins form small groups and they are considered to be shy and not so playful. However today this was not the case at all, in fact it was quite the opposite as we encountered a large group with several mother and juvenile pairs that accompanied our boat as we travelled. We even got to see some jumping out of the water, something we don't often see this species doing. It was great to have such a beautiful close encounter and really be able to see their unusual appearance (a rounded head with no prominent beak and a very scratched white body) which also sets Risso's dolphins apart from other dolphin species. Although we also saw a very small group of common dolphins, today the Risso's dolphins were the stars of the tour.
After our amazing dolphin encounter we had some time to visit Vila Franca Islet where we spotted a variety of other types of wildlife. This islet is especially great for bird watching, and indeed we did spot two graceful little egrets among the more common bird species. We can also add a small loggerhead turtle to our extensive list of what we saw during today's tour. It was nice to have several clients aboard that took a great interest in seeing and documenting all types of wildlife we encountered, including the red rock crabs that make Vila Franca islet their home.
Photos from today:
Risso's dolphin jumping
A juvenile Risso's dolphin, almost without scratches
One of the adult and juvenile pairs
Two adult Risso's dolphins
Rock pigeons on Vila Franca Islet
Azorean grey wagtail on Vila Franca Islet
Red rock crabs
Little egret flying over Vila Franca Islet
Our biologist Andreia with a family we had onboard
Enjoying the ride back