Tuesday, August 20, 2019

30 Pilot whales, common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and even a hammerhead shark

Finally, we went back to the sea! We headed to the big blue ocean with a lot of energy after those days of bad weather. Our first stopped was an area where our lookouts found common dolphins socializing and jumping. 

Afterwards, we continued and suddenly on the radio, some of our boats were warning the others because they spotted a special species... Quickly all the boats arrived at this area and yes, they were there! One of our seasonal species: the short-finned pilot whale. We could see a group of 30 individuals and also a newborn among them on which we observed the birthmarks.


During the observation of these beautiful pilot whales, we started to see a rather different dorsal fin, but we couldn´t see very well what it was between the waves and the pilot whales. Then it started to approach and we saw it... A hammerhead shark!! This amazing shark remained close to us at least 5 minutes, so it allowed our guest to enjoy it very well.

Photo by Ramona Negulescu

Photo by Ramona Negulescu

In the afternoon the day was darker and the sea was wavy but we still manage to see two species of our resident dolphins. The common dolphins were our first star! It was a small group that unfortunately were not very interested in the boats, although they still showed up close enough to the boasts some time making it possible to see their beautiful hour-glass pattern. We continued the tour and a big group of bottlenose dolphins appeared. The group was all together playing around by surfing the waves.

Monday, August 19, 2019

We saw the right whale in Canada, a species encountered just once in the last 50 years in Azores

Each day at sea we hope to learn more about cetaceans, that we encounter in our waters. Amongst these many species , there is one species that has been only seen once in the last 50 years-the Northern Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis). This sighting was in 2009 off Pico Island, this species is very rare and close to extinction, with just over 400 individuals in the North Atlantic.
To learn more about these whales and other cetaceans, our Biologist Rui Santos is currently at the Mingan Island Cetacean Study a research station in Canada, a center with which we have collaborated for several years.  Rui has joined the Mingan team to better understand the natural history of blue whales, that are also present in the Azores in the spring. Last Saturday August 10, Rui observed his first right whale. This right whale is well-known to New England Aquarium right whale photo-ID catalog and is named Aphrodite, the well-known Greek goddess of Love. Unfortunately, our love for these animals is difficult to ascertain, because of the negative impact we have on them due to entanglement in fishing gear and collisions with ships, which causes a high mortality in this species.

This year 8 have died already, while 3 years ago 17 were killed by entanglement in fishing gear and ship collisions. And these are the ones that we found, how many more died without our knowledge. If we think we are not to blame, how many of us are upset when an order of merchandize takes too long to arrive.  If an item we have ordered comes by ship and the vessel moves at more 15 knots the risk of collision increases exponentially, while at slow speeds it is negligiable. Is it in fact so important that the package takes longer to arrive? This is just one example of so many things we have to change to reduce the impact we have on these animals.
Aphrodite is just one of many whales that has been trapped in lines, that has survived for the moment, but for how long?


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Lots of Atlantic spotted dolphins (around 200)!

Today we went to the sea and we found two species of dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphin and common dolphin.

The first group that we saw was a huge group of Atlantic spotted dolphins quite far from shore jumping and travelling all together, they were around 200 dolphins.
Then we spotted another group of Atlantic spotted dolphins but this time they were not that active than the first group. In summer, the waters are warmer and we can see this species of dolphin, then when gets colder these dolphins stay in latitudes closer to the equator. Today in the sea there were plenty individuals of this seasonal species around our boats.

Also, we found a group of common dolphins, the resident species more sighted in Azores. We are happy to see these animals in their natural habitat, where they belong. 

These animals live in groups all their life and they swim long distances per day in a dynamic environment that is the ocean, so be in a tank shouldn’t be a way to see them. Thanks to everyone for coming today and see them free!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Hoping to the favourable weather conditions will be back soon

This morning our lookouts spotted a blow of a sperm whale before we went out so we spread all our whale watching boats in the area to search for it. 

We also used our hydrophones to scan the area for any acustic signal but unfortunately we could not detect anything. No sounds, no blows! 

We checked in a wider zone for any cetacean but we did not manage to find them. 

So our garantie of inviting our guest for a second chances was applied and we hope that next time the cetacean will be back frolicking and delighting. 

For the afternoon our trips are cancelled due to increasing wind and swell. 

So let's hope that the favourable weather conditions will be back soon together with the animals.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Great moments with bottlenose dolphins and atlantic spotted dolphins

Today was a great day for whale watching! The sun was shining, the animals were easy to spot and everybody was having a great time in our boats. We started the trip with some Risso's dolphins that we found on our way to another species. 

They were a group of about 15 individuals, really calm, allowing us to enjoy a great sighting. We kept on navigating to some sperm whales that after some time of search delighted us with two beautiful flukes.

Big and active bottlenose dolphins appeared really close to the sperm whales, bowriding at really high speed they chased our boat for quite a long time. We still could witness another sighting with two more sperm whales and even a double fluke. What a great and nonstop morning.

Our friend the "egypcian" bottlenose dolphin

This afternoon a very active pod of atlantic spotted dolphins with a lot of babies were swimming close to us during some minutes, after some of them were doing bow riding on our catamaran boats. Our lookouts and us were looking for more species, we went 13 miles outside but the nature was not on our side and we came back thinking of the amazing races of atlantic spotted dolphins.


Thursday, August 15, 2019

9 cetacean species in an incredible Summer day in São Miguel

What an amazing day! Nine different species in just one day... Where else in the world can you see so many different species in one day?? Common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins, Risso's dolphins, striped dolphins, sperm whales, Sowerby's beaked whale, and even baleen whales! Sei whale and minke whale! Such a wonderful day!! 

In the morning, bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins delighted all our boats. Bow-riding and socialising, with mirror-like waters and a perfect sunny day. Sperm whales were around foraging, so we had the opportunity to see different tails when they were going for foraging dives.

In the afternoon our trips were a bit longer than expected, but they were worth it! We have seen plenty of sperm whales, socialising calmly on the surface. A Sowerby's beaked whale was travelling and appeared just a couple of times on the surface. Risso's dolphins appeared close to the shore to one of our boats.

A minke whale surprised one of our catamarans. And even a couple of Sei whales were around! Sei whales are usually sighted in late spring-summer, but today they wanted to show up for us!

And... if whales and dolphins were not enough, even Portuguese Man o'War, turtles, flying fish, small squid, a shark and a sunfish! Summer days... we love you! 

Sowerby's beaked whale

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Lots of sperm whales and dolphins with calm sea!

This hot calm summer morning started off with calm sperm whales. We had a group of sperm whales consisting of about 10 individuals that had some calves and juveniles. They were resting in the glassy water which was a beautiful sight.

Next, we headed off to some Atlantic spotted dolphins. Here, we were even able to see them underwater through the surface because of the clear glassy water. 
The spotted dolphins had some calves and juveniles as well. 

A few of our other boats also saw some curious bottlenose dolphins!

The afternoon was also great, a bit more wind and swell but still smooth conditions. We found again a sperm whale which finally fluked after a shallow dive. 

Then we went to see the bottlenose dolphins and they were bow-riding as long as they could and whistling all the time. When one was taking the position of another we could see open mouths threatening. This time they weren't biting but they were covered in teeth marks from former fights. We could watch them so well as if they were no water around them.

 When the sea is so calm it is always a special experience.

Blue Shark

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