Saturday, May 14, 2016

Close-up and personal with whales and dolphins

It's been another long but amazing day of whale and dolphin watching off São Miguel Island in the Azores. Today we had three tours, each of them with really nice encounters with both whales and dolphins. It felt just like summer, with a bright blue sky and calm and clear ocean. In total we encountered 5 whale and dolphin species throughout the day, as well as plenty of turtles and seabirds. 

We started the morning with 2 fin whales followed by a nice group of Risso's dolphins that became curious towards one of our boats, Song of Whales, in the late morning.  After lunch we began with bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins and then went offshore where there was reported to be a small whale. To our luck it was a very curious minke whale, only our second individual of this species this year. The minke whale came right to all our boats, very close. In fact it came so close that from one of our boats the captain managed to film it underwater simply by holding a camera over the side of the boat. It seemed as if the whale was coming to greet us all, one boat at a time. 

The third tour was just as great as the first two. There was a very big group of bottlenose dolphins spread out over a large area, so we encountered many individuals as we travelled through. First they were very spread out, but in the end they came together and started socialising, meaning that we got to see a lot of impressive high leaps. It seemed they didn't want us to leave as they leapt behind our boat when we continued to try to find a whale our lookout had seen earlier. After a lot of searching and almost loosing hope our captain Mario spotted a fin whale which we had a really nice encounter with before heading back to shore. What a great day from beginning to end!

Photos from the morning tour:

Fin whale

Risso's dolphins

Photos from the early afternoon tour:

One of our boats with bottlenose dolphins

Watching bottlenose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphin

An encounter with a curious loggerhead turtle

Seeing a common dolphin

Common dolphin

Minke whale

Minke whale surfacing - notice the white on the pectoral fin through the water

Minke whale head

Seeing the minke whale through the water

The minke whale was very curious, approaching all the boats one at a time

Photos from the late afternoon tour:

A bottlenose dolphin wave-surfing

Face to face with a bottlenose dolphin

We got to see some great jumps from the bottlenose dolphins

Fin whale surfacing

Fin whale blow

Fin whale

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