Tuesday, May 23, 2017

One more day of fin whales and dolphins

Today, due to the weather conditions we went to the sea just in the morning. The sea was wavy today as we had wind from the south but once again we manage to see whales and dolphins.

We started the tour with the sighting of different fin whales. The animals were with feeding behaviour, that means that they spend just a few minutes at the surface  before diving again searching for food. They were four different whales in the area, all of them with the same behaviour. It wasn't easy to see them because of the wavy sea and the behaviour of the animals but we know that we are working with wild animals and it is needed to be pacients sometimes.

In the same area of the fin whales there was a small pod of bottlenose dolphins that were really close to the whales. Is not uncommon to see different species of cetaceans in the same area, sometimes they even interact with each other. In this case seemed that the dolphins were playing with the waves that the whales were making while travelling.

At this time of the year during our tours our clients have the opportunity to see a really special creature: Portuguese Man-of-War (Physalia physalis). Some people confuse them with jellyfish because they look alike but they are not. Portuguese Man of War is a siphonophore and is not just one animal but a colony of organisms called polyps. This polyps have four different funtions: reproduction, feeding, navigation and defense. The part of the colony that we can see from the surface is the pneumatophore, a sail shaped structure filled with gas. 



The other part of the colony is below the surface, long tentacles that contain stinging nematocysts, microscopic capsules loaded with coiled, barbed tubes that deliver venom capable of paralyzing and killing small fish and crustaceans. They have just a few predators, one of them is the loggerhead turtle that it is inmune to the venomous tentacles. This species of turtle is the most common one around the Azores and at this time of the year we can say that they are having a feast in our waters! 

Photos from today:

Fin whale blow


Fin whale

A wild fin whale encounter aboard our zodiac boat

Bottlenose dolphin (left side) and fin whale (right side)

Bottlenose dolphin

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