Sunday, August 20, 2017

Summer on the ocean

Today was a really hot summer's day, making it perfect to be out on the sea enjoying the ocean breeze and ofcourse the whales and dolphins. The calm and blue conditions were really nice for seeing the animals as well as the views of São Miguel island. In the morning we started with our familiar Bryde's whale mother and calf pair that have been around for almost a week now. As the other days that we have been seeing them, they were travelling very calmly near the surface and occasionally coming up for a breath (in the case of the baby whale it was always coming with its head high out of the water, giving us a great look). we also enjoyed the company of common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins, who were both feeding when we encountered them in the morning. Both dolphin groups were accompanied by Cory's shearwaters and we could see the ball of fish they were feeding on through the crystal clear water. From one of our boats a small group of beaked whales was also seen briefly at the surface. In the afternoon we re-encountered the same Bryde's whales, this time a bit more to the west. Again they were calm and great to watch, so we spent some time enjoying them, before leaving them to continue to the dolphins. We had a big group of bottlenose dolphins very close to the area of the Bryde's whales, and we got to see a range of behaviours and have a very memorable encounter with them before returning to Ponta Delgada.

Photos from today:

Bryde's whales off the coast of Ponta Delgada

Bryde's whales off the coast of Ponta Delgada

Bryde's whale mother and calf pair

Watching common dolphins

Jumping bottlenose dolphins

Bryde's whales in the afternoon, more to the west

Bottlenose dolphins

Cory's shearwater

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Nice day!

Today the sea conditions and the visibility have improved a lot, and the sightings were good as well. Both in the morning and in the afternoon tours we had great sightings. The day started cloudy near the coast and we had to go far to find Sperm whales and a group of Atlantic spotted dolphins. In the afternoon we were travelling towards the same area when one of our lookouts discovered a Bryde’s whale in the area quite close to our boat. After spending some time with the Bryde’s whale we continue toward the west and we found a large pod of Atlantic spotted dolphins, very active and feeding together with Cory’s shearwater.

Loggerhead turtle resting at the surface

Sperm whale fluking 

Bryde's whale

Juvenile Atlantic spotted dolphins

Friday, August 18, 2017

Bryde's whales and dolphins

The Bryde's whale mother and calf pair that we have been seeing the past 2 days are still here. In the morning they were very close to shore and close to Ponta Delgada, as they were yesterday afternoon. Later in the day they were more to the east, but still not far from our base. It's been really nice to be able to see these two whales who are always very calm around our boats. The calf is always surfacing with its head very hight out of the water so we get to see it really well. As well as these whales we also encountered a well known group of bottlenose dolphins throughout the day (the group we refer to as Bubblemaker's group) and also common dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins.

Photos from today:

Playful bottlenose dolphins

Atlantic spotted dolphin

Bottlenose dolphin tail

Bryde's whlale mother and calf (surfacing with its head high out of the water)

Bryde's whale mother and calf

Thursday, August 17, 2017

6 sperm whale males in the morning and 6 species in the afternoon

What a day! On the Catamaran Cetus we started with a special encounter this morning. First we saw big blows in the distance, as we came closer we counted 3 sperm whales travelling at the surface. By their size and their large head, which is bulkier in the bulls, we concluded that they must be males. Normally females form groups and adult males are solitary, so it was a big surprise. Suddenly the number of individuals doubled. Watching six big animals coordinating their travelling in a line formation is not a regular sight at all.
On the zodiacs we also saw common dolphins, spotted dolphins and Bryde's whales during the morning tours.
In the afternoon on the catamaran we found our recently observed mother with her calf, which were the tropical Bryde's whales again, but this time they were not far from the harbour entrance. As we continued our trip we came across Risso's dolphins and a bit later common dolphins. Later we managed to observe five of the big sperm whale males but this time preparing for a deep sea dive. One after the other they "waved goodbye" with their majestic flukes before disappearing in the depths. On our way back we were visited by a pod of Atlantic spotted dolphins. On the zodiacs we sighted bottlenose dolphins which brings the species number up to 6. Topping our average by 4 species!

Photos from today:
Four of the six sperm whale males at the surface in the morning

Bryde's whale mother and calf synchronizing their breathing

Adult Risso's dolphin finishing his exhalation

Common dolphin presenting his colorful hourglass design accompanied by a Cory's shearwater

Two of the sperm whale males fluking

Atlantic spotted dolphin breaching with something in or on it's beak

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

More Bryde's whales

Today we enjoyed the company of more Bryde's whales, again on a beautiful summers day. In the morning they were directly offshore from Ponta Delgada. Two adults travelling slowly and spending long periods of time at the surface. They were very calm and curious around our boats, so that we got to see them really well. Near the Bryde's whales there were also some beaked whales, which some of us got to see before these elusive animals went on a deep dive and were not seen again. They were thought to be Sowerby's beaked whales, one of the 6 beaked whale species we can see in the Azores. The morning tour was completed by a big group of our playful Atlantic spotted dolphins. As usual, the group included a lot of small baby dolphins and they were a real delight to watch. The afternoon was just as great as the morning. This time we encountered the two Bryde's whales from yesterday - the mother calf pair. They were very calm and often curious, and just like yesterday the calf was coming high out of the water so we could often see its eye. As in the morning, dolphins (this time common dolphins) completed the afternoon tour so that everyone went home happy.

Photos from the morning:

Bryde's whale rolling on its side, showing its pectoral fin and tail tip

Watching one of the Bryde's whales

Bryde's whale dorsal

Atlantic spotted dolphins

Atlantic spotted dolphins (mother and calf)

Photos from the afternoon:

Baby Bryde's whale surfacing high next to its mother

Bryde's whale mother and calf (notice the dark eye of the calf)

Watching the Bryde's whales from aboard our catamaran "Cetus"

Watching common dolphins

A big group of common dolphins

A beautiful common dolphin

An encounter with a Cory's shearwater

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Baby Bryde's whale

This morning we went out to find a lovely surprise - a very small baby Bryde's whale alongside its mother. This year we have been lucky to see a few of these rare whales that don't show up in the Azores every year, but it was our first baby Bryde's whale of the year. The mother and calf were very calm, spending long periods at the surface, and the calf was surfacing high so we could see its head very well out of the water. Our morning tour was completed by some lovely bottlenose dolphins and a huge and active group of Atlantic spotted dolphins from the catamaran Cetus and instead of Atlantic spotted dolphins we had a curious group of common dolphins on the catamaran Quatro Ventos. In the afternoon we found the same mother and calf of Bryde's whales and a big pod of Atlantic spotted dolphins at times behaving like striped dolphins porpoising, which means that they were swimming very fast, leaping flat out of the water. The water looked like boiling and there was always a part of the group out of the water.

Photos from today:

Bryde's whale calf surfacing alongside its mother

Bryde's whale calf surfacing high alongside its mother

Brydes whale calf (left side) and mother (right side, with a huge blow)

Adult Bryde's whale

Bottlenose dolphin face

Juvenile Atlantic spotted dolphin

Watching Atlantic spotted dolphins from the bow of our catamaran

Atlantic spotted dolphins

Common dolphins seen in the mornig from Quatro Ventos

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