Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Baleen and toothed whales

Today we had a very lucky whale watching tour as we encountered two different great whale species from the two existing cetacean groups. 

First we encountered at least two fin whales, who belong to the group of the baleen whales. These filter feeding whales have baleen plates in their mouth which they use to filter small food like plankton and small schooling fish out of the water. Next we encountered a family group of sperm whales, who belong to the group of the toothed whales. As the name suggests the toothed whales have teeth in their mouth, in the case of the sperm whale they are only in the lower jaw and they feed on squid and octopus. 

The fin whales we encountered this morning were travelling fairly fast, heading to the south, which is expected as these migratory whales spend the winter months in warmer waters for reproduction. It's nice to see them here this time of the year, as we mostly see them during their north-bound migration during the spring months. 

Sperm whales are resident to the Azores, so we have family groups of females with their young that are staying here year-round. The group we encountered this morning was actually our most encountered sperm whale group here in São Miguel. From the photograph we take from our research we could identify a whale we call "Diamond" (encountered from one of our zodiac boats) as well as "Left tip" and "Marble" (encountered from our catamaran. 

Our dolphin swimming clients spent the morning in the company of our resident bottlenose dolphins. Although we didn't see the dolphins from our whale watching boats, we were all very happy with our two different whale species.

Photos from today:

Fin whale

Fin whale

The first tail seen from the catamaran upon arriving to the sperm whales

The second tail - a sperm whale we call "Left tip"

A sperm whale we call "Marble"

Marble going on a deep dive

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