Monday, January 2, 2017

2016 whale and dolphin highlights

2016 has been another great year for whale and dolphin watching off São Miguel island in the Azores. In total this year we encountered 18 different species (10 whale species and 8 dolphin species). The most encountered species were two of our resident dolphin species, the common dolphin and bottlenose dolphin, followed by the sperm whale which is also resident in the Azores. It's been a really good year for sperm whales, with more sightings than in previous years, often close to our base in Ponta Delgada. The next most encountered species was the fin whale, again with significantly more sightings than in previous years. In fact we saw fin whales all months of the year except in January. We now know that baleen whales, especially fin whales are around the Azores all year, even if we don't always encounter them. This is also the case with other species such as beaked whales, striped dolphins and pilot whales that are most likely always present in offshore waters. It's been a privelege going out for another year of whale and dolphin watching in such a species-diverse area. We never know what we will see so we can expect a surprise at any time of the year from any species. As well as whales and dolphins we have also registered many sightings of turtles (mostly loggerhead turtles but also leatherback turtles), ocean sunfish, manta rays, sharks, tuna, swordfish and marlin, flying fish, jellyfish and several species of seabirds. Our graphs below summarise our cetacean (whale and dolphins) sighting frequencies for the whole year, followed by a breakdown by month of some of the more common species and a graph of encounter locations. We hope you can join us in 2017 and we wish you all a happy new year!

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