Friday, September 30, 2016

September 2016 sightings statistics

The summer is coming to an end, but that certainly doesn't mean that we aren't going out and still seeing a lot of whales and dolphins here off São Miguel island in the Azores. Here we have different species coming and going throughout the year, and we also have resident species, meaning that we have sightings of both whales and dolphins all throughout the year. Throughout the month of September we encountered 12 different species: 6 whale species and 6 dolphin species. As expected, the most encountered whale species was the sperm whale, which is resident in the Azores. This time of the year is also great to see beaked whales, and this month we registered encounters with three different species: Cuvier's beaked whales, Sowerby's beaked whales and Blainville's beaked whales. At this time of the year the baleen whales are migrating south to warmer waters, and although during their south-bound migration we don't often see them (during the spring when they are headed north we see many), this year we have had a sighting of a fin whale and a minke whale, and one day our coastal lookout even saw a blue whale! As well as whales and dolphins, out there in the big blue during September we also encountered loggerhead turtles, an ocean sunfish, manta ray, devil ray, sharks, tuna, flying fish and plenty of marine birds as usual.



Familiar whales

This morning we had some more great moments with sperm whales. We encountered a whale family that we know from previous encounters with them here in São Miguel as well as other areas around the Azores. One whale in this group was first photographed by us back in 2006, 10 years ago. Another whale in the group is very easy to recognise because its dorsal fin is missing. We don't know how this happened, but we have named this whale "Kima". Today we encountered at least 10 whales from Kima's family, giving our clients some great memories of their time in the Azores.


Photos of the sperm whales from today:

The whale we call "Kima" with a missing dorsal fin

Kima going on a dive

Another sperm whale arching its back to dive

Another beautiful tail


Logging at the surface

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Beaked whales and dolphins make a splash

It's been another great day out on the ocean. We started the morning tour with a rare encounter: beaked whales! Beaked whales are always rewarding if you see them well, as they are usually very shy and elusive and therefore difficult to watch. They typically only spend about 8% of their lives at the surface and can dive to almost 3000 metres deep. Today we were lucky that they were staying close to the surface, travelling fast making huge plashes as if they were in a hurry. When our first boat arrived it was a mixed group of Blainville's beaked whales and Sowerby's beaked whales, but the Blainville's beaked whales quicly left, leaving us all with a nice group of Sowerby's beaked whales. As they came high out of the water we could really see their long beaks that gave them their name. As for the dolphins, we had plenty to see throughout the day. In the morning we encountered a group of bottlenose dolphins close to shore, and in the afternoon we first encountered a big group of about 200 Atlantic spotted dolphins, and later a smaller group of bottlenose dolphins that included an individual we know well and call "Submarino". Lets see what surprises are out there for us tomorrow...


Photos from the morning:

Sowerby's beaked whale

Sowerby's beaked whales

Sowerby's beaked whale

Bottlenose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphin

Photos from the afternoon:

Atlantic spotted dolphin

Atlantic spotted dolphins

Atlantic spotted dolphin

Bottlenose dolphins

Loggerhead turtle

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Mr Liable always around

Once again Mr Liable, male sperm whale, gave us all perfect photos of this majestic tail. We saw him two times this morning and in between these encounters we could enjoy the company of Bubblemaker and family. Bubblemaker is our loyal bottlenose dolphin that we see on a regular basis. This time there were some new fins in the group as well. And on our way back we came across a small group of Risso's dolphins. A perfect morning and we hope our boats out there right now for the afternoon has just as wonderful time as we did. 

Photos from this morning:


Mr. Liable diving for the second time

Bottlenose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphin

Risso's dolphins

Risso's dolphins

Risso's dolphins diving

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Sperm whales and Risso's dolphins

This morning the sea was calm, so we set out to the east of the island to an area where our coastal lookout had seen some whales. But first, on the way we had a group of dolphins to see. There was a large group of at least 30 Risso's dolphins spread out over a large area. They were calm and playful, making them great to watch. We saw a few darker juveniles together with the whiter adults, and they were not shy to come near our boats. Next it was time for the whales that were further east. It was a group of at least 10 to 15 sperm whales, just like with the Risso's dolphins there were several juveniles among the adults. Today was not a day for tails from these whales, but we enjoyed seeing them at the surface together as they appeared to be having some social time. On our way back to Ponta Delgada we had one final surprise; a small group of common dolphins that came to check us out. 


Photos from today:

Adult and juvenile Risso's dolphins



The sperm whale group together

Two sperm whales surfacing high to breathe (notice each one has an open blowhole)

The sperm whales

Monday, September 26, 2016

Curious baby sperm whale

Today we saw several sperm whales, but the same group both in the morning and in the afternoon. Our boats saw lots of them around, and some jumping whales as well. But the highlight was the little baby in the family. In the morning the baby was a bit more shy but still wondefully cute next to the adults. In the afternoon, maybe with a belly full of milk, it all of a sudden jumped next to our catamaran and then it came right up to us to check us out. It swam under our bow almost like a dolphin. Amazing to see the intelligens of these animals and looking someone so small in the eyes and see a soul. Of course we also saw dolphins during the day, pilot whales, common dolphins, spotted dolphins and bottlenose dolphins.

Photos from the morning:

Common dolphin

Common dolphin


Female and baby


Female and baby

Photos from the afternoon:

Curious baby

Who is watching who?




Sunday, September 25, 2016

Bottlenose day

Today we encountered a large group of bottlenose dolphins, a bit spread out and far offshore but wonderful to see. Our swimmers also had a lovely time with them, as they could see the babies underwater. After this encounter we searched lng and far in different directions to find more animals. Oneof our boats saw a group of common dolphins, but the rest of us had to be happy with the bottlenose dolphins. Such beautiful animals will make anyone smile for hours.

Photos from today:

Bottlenose dolphin

Perfec ID photo



Saturday, September 24, 2016

Mr Liable is back!

"Mr Liable" the big male sperm whale was with us in São Miguel again this morning. He can't have gone far because we saw him just two days ago. In the morning we also encountered familiar bottlenose dolphins; the group of "Bubblemaker" that we see here often. In the afternoon we started off with Bubblemaker's group, almost in the place where we had left them in the morning. After some time with them we headed offshore to where Mr Liable had last been seen, but unfortunately he had left as quickly as he arrived to the south coast of this island. We did find another group of bottlenose dolphins out there, this time an unfamiliar group that was very large and included many babies. It was nice to see them enjoying the waves and they even put in their best effort to race our boats as we left them to head back to base.


Photos from the morning:



"Mr Liable" - a male sperm whale



Bottlenose dolphins


Photos from the afternoon:

The bottlenose dolphin we call "Bubblemaker"

A big group of bottlenose dolphins


Mother and baby
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