Monday, December 31, 2007

The Best of 2007!

During last year we had many unforgetable moments. 3 of them that really stood out were:

In April we observed a group of orcas attacking and killing a fin whale.

A very curious whale shark (the largest fish in the world) of about 8 m approached our boat (about half a meter from us). It was the first time we have encountered the species since we started whale watching here.
In November we saw a white sperm whale. The Moby Dick legend was reborn in the Azores. The whale was a young calf with a big head and was white all over. It was observed swimming alongside its mother and the other whales of the group. They seemed very protective over the newborn of the group.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Rain and fog in our adventure!

Today was a not the best day for whale watching. The rain and the fog limited our activities a lot. The vigias (onshore lookouts) could not see anything from shore due to the poor visibility and the boats out on the water did not see much more from sea level. Due to these conditions we only had a tour in the morning. Still we managed to encounter common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins. The sea actually turned out to be good, it was just the rain that limited us. We hope the conditions will improve soon.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sperm whales are here

September has been a month was many great opportunities to observe sperm whales. We have seen sperm whales in 15 of the past 26 days! The last three of these days, from September 23rd to 26th we have been watching large pods of sperm whales made up of many females, calves and also some huge males. There are a lot of sperm whales families in São Miguel at the moment!
We hope to have the same sort of luck in the upcoming days...


Saturday, September 22, 2007

What a day!!!

Today our whale watching tour was to the west of São Miguel Island again, just four miles off the coast of Mosteiros Islet. Here we encountered a group of sperm whales logging very calmly at the surface. The whales were not diving, just lying there, which gave us the perfect opportunity to observe them. It seems that today they are just taking the day off to rest at the surface.
In the morning we encountered other species: a huge pod of Atlantic spotted dolphins and some bottlenose dolphins.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Good weather - a great chance to observe sperm whales

Today we return to our blog after a long silence due to a very busy season. The good news is that we have been seeing sperm whales, a lot of them.  For example yesterday we encountered a group made up of around 12 juveniles and a large male. Today we saw the same group in the same area: Mosteiros on western part of São Miguel island. Today we also encountered Atlantic spotted dolphins and a huge group of bottlenose dolphins. Super!!!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Sei whales and many dolphins

Today's jouney took us along the south coast of São Miguel to see sei whales and very large groups of dolphins. On all of our three tours today we saw the whales and dolphins. Even though we missed having the sperm whales today everybody was happy to see sei whales instead, and the common dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins were both in really large pods.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Whale blows, blows and tails!!!

Today we had more adventures of the coast of São Miguel Island! We had three tours and all of them were full of whale sightings. Our first encounter in the morning was with several different groups of sperm whales just in front of Ponta Garça. There were 10 whales here, another 12 there, 6 more in the distance, basically sperm whales everywhere! As far as we could see the horizon was full of blows.
In the afternoon we had the same situation, only this time the whales were in front of Vila Franca. For our last tour the sperm whales were still there and we alos had a bonus sighting of a sei whale.
On all of our tours we also encountered bottlenose dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins.
What a day!!!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Sperm whales, sei whales and dolphins

Today Futurismo had three whale watching tours in São Miguel Island. All three tours were very sucessfull: In the morning and afternoon we saw a group of sperm whales, three sei whales and dolphins and during the evening tour we we saw the same sperm whales and more dolphins. Virtually every day in the Azores is like this, full of many whale and dolphin sightings. One of the reasons of our great success is due to the way we find the animals. We simply spot them from land, using skilled whales spotters (known as vigias in Portuguese) equiped with powerfull binoculars. Futurismo has a network of lookouts along the south coast of São Miguel Island that spot almost everything we see on our tours. Hopefully tomorrow they will continue to see the whales out there...

Thursday, August 9, 2007

More sperm whales and a sei whale

This morning we resighted our well known group of sperm whales that we have been seeing here in São Miguel over the past week. Today the group was spotted about two miles off the coast of Ponta Garça, along the south coast of the island. The group is made up of several juveniles, females and a large male. As well as the sperm whales in the morning we also encountered groups of common dolphins and a few bottlenose dolphins.
By the time we went on our afternoon tour our vigias (onshore lookouts) had unfortunately lost sight of the sperm whales due to poor visibility and wind on the sea. It was almost impossible to see anything from shore, but luckily our boats found a sei whale just half a mile from the marina where we depart from in Ponta Delgada. There were many birds around, feeding together with the sei whale on a large group of mackerel. It was a great encounter and everybody on our boats got good images of the sei whale. After this encounter we came across a group of common dolphins, so despite the bad visibility we still had a great tour!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The same success with the same group of sperm whales

Today Futurismo had three whale watching tours in São Miguel. On all three tours we saw sperm whales: the same group that we have been seeing in the past few days. Earlier in the morning we encountered the group close to the coastline of Agua de Pau, just in front of our vigia (onshore lookout). Throughout the day they were seen travelling very slowly, all the time staying in the same area. This gave us the perfect opportunity the see the group on all our tours today!
To make our tours even more complete today we also encountered  groups of common dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A new group of sperm whales sighted on the south coast of Pico Island

Today we had 3 tours, all of them with sperm whale encounters!
On Sunday a new group of sperm whales appeared along the south coast of Pico Island. We resighted this new group both yesterday and today and both days we did not know where to look because there were whales everywhere! Today we encountered them close to Queimada, and our biologist Romeno took photos of the "new tails of Pico" for our sperm whale catalogue. Some of the whales were very curious and they were spyhopping, showing us their heads and they came high out of the water. The most impressive whale of the group was a very large male that was huge alongside the much smaller females and calves.
Ofcourse we cannot forget the pilot whales we saw today and in many previous days, the Atlantic spotted dolphins that were playing with our boat in the beginning of today's tour and the bottlenose dolphins we encountered right at the end of the tour. Now we are waiting for tomorrow for the next adventure!

A huge group of sperm whales!

Today a big group of sperm whales surrounds the south coast of São Miguel Island, bringing us up to more than four days that we have seen this same group travelling together. In the morning they appeared close to the village of Agua de Pau where Futurismo has a vigia (onshore lookout). The group was later seen travelling southwest, further away from the coastline. This situation allowed us to see sperm whales both our morning and afternoon tours today.
The dolphins are an almost constant presence and they usually come close to our boats as they did today. The dolphin species sighted today were Atlantic spotted dolphins, common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Another day with sperm whales

Today we had two tours again, as we are still in the busy summer season. On both our tours we encountered sperm whales, the same group that we found yesterday. Our encounters left our passengers with some wonderful memories. On both tours today we also saw common dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

A festival of sperm whales

 Sperm whale breaching. Photo taken by: Ronald de Vries and Annemarie Nijssen
The festival of sperm whales continues off the coast of São Miguel Island. Today Futurismo had two tours; one the morning and another afternoon. On both we observed sperm whales and beaked whales with the added bonus of a lot of dolphins as well. The weather was beautiful, the sea flat and the whales made the most of it by spending the day socialising and resting in groups. The young juvenile whales surprised us by breaching (jumping) here and there (see the photo kindly shared with us by Ronald de Vries and Annemarie Nijsen). In conclusion it was another spectacular day with whales.

Friday, August 3, 2007

A show of whales in São Miguel

Today we had sperm whales spread out everywhere, blowing and breaching in a spectacle that never seemed to end. We got to see this incredible show at the end of the day, just a few miles from Ponta Delgada. On this tour we also sighted common dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins.

Observing a dolphin dying from plastic

Today Futurismo's crew and clients witnessed the tragic moment of a dolphin dying. The dolphin had plastic caught around it's mouth and unfortunately we could not do anything to save it. Other dolphins were trying to help remove the plastic by using their noses to to push against the distressed dolphin's stomach while also trying to help it stay at the surface. Despite these efforts after a few minutes the dolphin stopped breathing. The worst part is that humans are responsible for this death and it reminded us how carefull we must be and what happens in nature when we let our rubbish end up in the oceans.

Who is watching us?

Today in the morning we had a great tour at sea to the west of São Miguel Island in an area near Mosteiros. In this area we encountered three very curious sperm whales that seemed to be watching us more than we were watching them. They were very quiet at the surface and when our boats approached them they began to spyhop, lifting their heads out of the water to look at us!!It was a lovely and magic moment that can only really be appreciated if you see it for yourself. Furthermore we saw two different kinds of dolphins: bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins. It's always a lot of fun to see the dolphins!!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

What a day in Pico! 7 cetacean species!

Today was another great day in Pico. We had three tours, all of them with many animals to observe. We encountered sperm whales, northern bottlenose whales, Sowerby's beaked whale, bottlenose dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins. In the Afternoon trip we resighted the sperm whales, Sowerby's beaked whale and bottlenose dolphins but also encountered Risso's dolphins and common dolphins. During the late tour the sperm whales and dolphins again as well as a loggerhead turlte. What a day!

A tour with four species of dolphins

Although today our vigias (onshore lookouts) sighted whales off the coast of São Miguel (sperm whales and a blue whale) our boats did not arrive in time to see them. So instead we spent our time with four different species of dolphins: bottlenose dolphins, Risso's dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins and common dolphins. So in the end it turned out to be a nice tour full of dolphins!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

António Guterres with Futurismo

 António Guterres and family with our zodiac in which they went whale watching

António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, spent some time on holiday in Pico Island, Azores. Mr. Guterres and  his family took the opportunity to go on board with Futurismo to observe whales and dolphins in the wild. The highlight for Mr. Guteres was an encounter with a huge pod of dolphins close to Ribeiras Village. The tour finished with sperm whales off the coast of São João Village. It was a pleasure for the Futurismo team at Lajes do Pico to have Mr. António Guterres on board!

Shy Sperm Whales in São MIguel

Today we had sperm whales again in São Miguel, although they seemed to bea bit shy and therefore difficult to observe. Their timid behaviour just meant that we had to watch them from a bit further away than usual, which was not a problem for our clients that were just happy to see whales.
Today we also spotted bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins.

6 Cetaceans species sighted in Pico

Today we had a really special afternoon in Lajes do Pico. We saw 6 species. Yes, SIX species of whales and dolphins in one tour! We encountered sperm whales, pilot whales, striped dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins, common dolphins and Rissos's dolphins. According to one of our passengers this tour was something to preserve in mind for the rest of his life, something that we definitely agree on!

Sperm Whales in São Miguel

Today is a grey day with poor visibility but our vigias (onshore lookouts) still managed to find us a sperm whale with a calf close to Ponta Delgada, just three miles to West. One of our boats arrived to the whales in time, just before they dived. The remainder of the time of our morning tour was spent with bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins. Let see what the afternoon tour brings us...

An encounter with 12 sperm whales in Pico

Our biologist Romero has just reported to us that this morning they had good weather and a very good tour aboard one of our zodiac boats which departed from Lajes do Pico. On this tour they watched 10 sperm whales at the surface together, followed by two more whales in the same area. It is not uncommon for us to see so many sperm whales together as they are very social with strong family bonds. As well as the whales on this morning's tour Risso's dolphins and Common dolphins were also encountered.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sperm whales in Pico

Today we were lucky with our whale watching in Pico Island. We found a pod of sperm whales just one mile from the Ribeiras Village. The sea was calm the whales looked like logs floating over the surface. They were calmly resting with smooth movements, socialising amongst themselves every now and then. We just stopped the boat and spent some time queitly observing these moments.

Our trip got even better when we came across a pod of Atlantic spotted dolphins. They followed the boat, jumping and riding the waves as if they were surfing.

In the afternoon there was a lot of wind at sea but we were just as succesfull with the same two species: sperm whales and Atlantic spotted dolphins.

Whales Whales Whales!!!

Yes, sperm whales are here today, close to São Miguel Island! This month we have seen whales every single day. Today we have seen them again!
Morning tour:
During the morning trip we spotted sperm whales on south of the island, close to Vila Franca. On this tour we ha the incredible chance of witnessing the birth of a calf, a baby sperm whale. It was a tremendous moment with emotions and feelings shared by the crew and passengers alike!

The trip finished with a pod of common dolphins.
Afternoon tour:
Even with a bit of wind we were lucky again with plenty of sperm whales to see. Among the group we resighted the baby sperm whale that we saw being born this moring. The calf was like milky coffee, very different to the other whales that we saw in the area.

The whales were spotted by our vigia, a man on land looking for whales and dolphins with powerfull binoculars. It was difficult because the visibility was poor due to fog, but still he managed to find the whales for us!

The trip ended with a show of Atlantic spotted dolphins.

Late afternoon tour:
Today we had an extra third tour in the late afternoon. Unfortunately the visibility had deteriorated, causing our vigia and the boats in the whale area to loose sight of the whales. Nevertheless, a pod of common dolphins made every body happy after some time looking for the whales.

Whale lice fact sheet

Whale lice (cyamidae) are small crustaceans, not lice despite their name. The name "whale lice" comes from the whalers, as they often had lice (Pediculus sp.) themselves and they saw how there were lots of animals crawling all over the whales as on themselves. Whale lice are between 5-15 mm long and are grouped into 7 genera and 32 species. Many species are physically almost identical and for many years they were classified as one species. Many new discoveries are made all the time, the most recent was 1991. A lice species that used to be classified as Isocyamus deplhinii is now Isocyamus kogiae as they live on pygmy sperm whales (Kogia breviceps).

Domain           Eukaryota      
Kingdom         Animalia        
Phylum           Arthropoda    
Subphylum     Crustacea       
Class               Malacostraca       
Order              Amphipoda    
Suborder         Corophiidea
Infraorder       Caprellida
Family            Cyamidae      
Genera            Cyamus, Isocyamus,
  Neocyamus, Platycyamus,
  Scutocyamus, Sirenocyamus and Syncyamus

The hosts that carry whale lice are both baleen whales (mysticeti) such as right whales, grey whales and rorquals, and toothed whales (odontoceti) such sperm whales, beaked whales, dolphins, and porpoises.

Northern right whales, Eubalaena glacialis and Eubalaena japonica, always have the lice on the same spots: on the rostrum (bonnet), the chin (beard) and above the eyes (eyebrows). Sourthern right whales (Eubalaena australis) also have an edge around the lip which the Northern right whales are missing. The lice have small hooks to cling on to the whales' callosities, which are crusty growths made of the whale itself, barnacles and Caprellids amphipods. On the callosities there are about 5000 Cyamus ovalis which gives them the white color. Between the callosities there are about 200 lice of the species C. glacilis and adult animals have are bout 2000 lice (C. Erraticus) around the genetalia. One whale can have as many as 7,500 lice living on its skin. Cyamus ovalis, C. glacilis and C. erraticus are not three species but 9 species as the right whales (Atlantic right whale, pacific right whale and Southern right whale) have their own unique lice seperated into different species.

Whale lice feed on dead skin cells and dead skin of their host, and other things that get stuck on the whale such as algae, but they do not feed on the whale itself. It is not a real louse nor a parasite, more just a free-rider that cleans the whale. Some whale lice are filter-feeders and eat plankton that drift by the whale.

The whale lice reproduce on the whale. Most are amphipods that have free-swimming stage, but this is something whale lice are missing and the female keep her offsprings in a marsupium on her underside and the offsprings, when ready, crawl onto the whale. Whale lice move from one whale to the other via close contact between mother and calf, or male and female during mating. A newborn calf doesn’t have lice, they are transmitted from the mother. Otherwise the lice stays on the whale throughout its life.

Mutualism or parasitism? When it comes to the interaction between cyamidae and Northern right whales can be classified as somewhere in between mutualism and parasitism. The whale doesn’t really benefit from the lice but the lice gets great benefits and is building its entire life around the whale, it is dependent on the whales lifecycle for its survival. The whale get one way of help as it gets rid of dead skin and other parasites.

For the whale research, the lice is very informative. The lice has been sitting on the whales for miljons of years and followed the evolution of the whales. Research on the lice has given us many answers when it comes to the evolution; for 5-6 miljon years ago the right whale was divided into three species, Southern right whale, Atlantic right whale and Pacific right whale. One, of just a few, Southern right whales crossed the ekvator  for about 1-2 miljon years ago and spread their lice (C. ovalis) to the Pacific right whale. Researchers has found that the lice on the Pacific right whale is closer related to the Southern then the Atlantic. The Southern right whales that crossed the ekvator probably didn’t mate with the Pacific right whale as the C. erraticus, that lives around the genitalia is not affected. This is amazing though right whales can’t cross the ekvator because it is too warm, as they have to much blobber. Whale lice also help researchers to identify individual whales, and makes the research easier. All right whales are unique, but sometimes it is diffecult to tell some individuals apart though they don’t have nay whites pots and are completly black. Witht he help of the lice the whale turns unique in shape and color. Probably the lice is irritating the skin, but it helps the research, which can be seen as a benefit for the whales in the long run.

One reason whales are jumping is to get rid of parasites and lice. Pec-fin slapping and lobtailing can also be a way to get rid of lice. Many species of cetaceans also rubb their bodies against rocks and seabottom, even in captivity. Cetaceans can also get help from birds to get rid of parasites when they come to the surface to breathe.

When we come to the situation for the lice we see that they are in danger in the future, because many of the whales they are living on are endangered. Atlantic and Pacific right whales are endangerd, and the Southern right whale are at risk and in need of conservation. Grey whale populations are at risk, and one population became extinct in the 1700s. Other threatened species of baleen whales are blue whale, fin whale, sei whale, humpback whale, all four species of minke whale, pymgy right whale and bowhead whale. Other whale species at risk are the vaquita, indus river dolphin, irrawaddy dolphin, and different populations of dolphins in certain areas (such as orca, bottlenose dolphin, spinner dolphin, pantropical spotted dolphin, pilot whales and melonheaded whale), many beaked whales, sperm whale and kogids.
An action for conservation of cetaceans and keep healthy populations is very important for the whale lice survival. Even if one whale can carry 5000 lice, the less whales they have the more they are at risk for inbreeding. When there are no more whales, there are no more whale lice.

Some of the cyamidae is strictly living on one whale species, such as Cyamus catodontis that only lives on male sperm whales, and Neocyamus physeteris that only lives on sperm whale female and calves. But a few species are finding new hosts, and the Isocyamus deplhinii doesn’t only exist on the shortbeaked common dolphin, it has been discovered on 12 other toothed whales, such as Risso’s dolphins, shortfinned pilot whales and longfinnes pilot whales, whitebeaked dolphin, false orca, bottlenose dolphin, harbour porpoises, rough-toothed dolphin, Gervais beaked whale and orca. But, whale lice is not moving onto other species then cetaceans.

Worms can be seen on most cetaceans, and in the Azores we see these worms hanging from the fins of all dolphin species, and the baleen whales. On the minke whale we can see species as Pennella and Cocconeis ceticolaThe orcas seems to have a Xenobalanus sp.

Iceland gull fact sheet

Larus glaucoides | Iceland gull

The Iceland gull can be confused with the glaucous gull, but can be distinguishid by the projection of the primary wings, as they clearly extend beyond the tail (more pointed). They are also smaller and more compact in flight. They can reach a size of 52 - 64 cm, with a weight of 820 - 1100 g and a wingspan of 125 - 145 cm. Iceland gulls can live to be 33 years old and lay 1 - 3 eggs at a time, incubating them for 28 - 30 days. Fledging occurs about 40 - 45 days after hatching. The beak of adult Iceland gulls is yellow with a light green tone and a red mark on the distal part of their lower jaw. They have pink legs and feet. In the Azores Iceland gulls can be seen in the winter, but sightings are very rare. They breed in the Arctic regions of Canada and Greenland, and outside the breeding season they can they be found wintering in the USA, UK, Iceland, Ireland, Norway and other parts of Scandinavia and north of Germany. In the summer they mainly feed in fish, marine invertebrates, bird eggs and chicks, seeds, fruit. In the winter they often seen feeding on debris, in fishing ports and dumpsters. Their population is stable but they are locally hunted in Greenland.  

In other languages
Portuguese: Gaivota polar
Spanish: gaviota groenlandesa
French: Goéland arctique/Goéland à ailes blanches
Italian: Gabbiano d'Islanda
German: Polarmöwe
Dutch: Kleine burgemeester
Swedish: Vitvingad trut
Norwegian: Grønlandsmåse
Danish: Hvidvinget måge
Finnish: Grönlanninlokki
Polish: Mewa polarna
RussianПолярная чайка

Glaucous gull fact sheet

Larus hyperboreus | Glaucous gull

The glaucous gull is the second largest gull and occures rarely in the Azores. They can reach a length of 63 - 68 cm, with a weight of 1200 -2000 g and a wingspan of 142 - 162 cm. They can be seen from October to April, close to the coast (and in the marina of Ponta Delgada), and may be seen in large flocks with other gulls. Their large size is the best way to differenciate them from other gulls with similar plumage. They are very similar to the European herring gull, but with the upper wings a paler shade of grey. Glaucous gulls have a circumpolar distribution, with several subspecies distributed between the Arctic and Subarctic coasts and islands of Europe, Asia and America. Depending on the population, they can behave as a partial or totally migratory species, or be dispersive. They are active predators around nesting colonies of seabirds. Glaucous gulls can live to be 21 years old and they are omnivorous, feeding mainly on fish, eggs and young birds (and some garbage in winter time). They lay 2 - 3 eggs and incubate them for 27 - 28 days. fledging occurs around 49 days.

In other languages
Portuguese: Gaivotão branco
Spanish: Gavión hiperbóreo/gaviota hiperbórea
French: Goéland bourgmestre
Italian: Gabbiano glauco
German: Eismöwe
Dutch: Grote burgemeester
Swedish: Vittrut
Norwegian: Polarmåke
Danish: Gråmåge
Finnish: Isolokki 
Polish: Mewa blada

Sooty shearwater fact sheet

Ardenna griseus | Sooty shearwater

The sooty shearwater is a medium sized shearwater reaching a length of 40 -50 cm, with a weight of 650 - 950 g and a wingspan of 93 - 106 cm. They have a dark colouration with long, pointed wings. In low light they can appear black and in good light chocolate brown with a pale band on the underside of the wing center. The beak is dark and they feed on small fish, shrimps and other crustaceans, squid and jellyfish. They lay one egg at a time which is incubated for 53 days and fledging occurs after 97 days. Sooty shearwaters can live to be 34 years old. They can dive as deep as 68 m to catch fish and they often follow whales and dolphins. 

In other languages
Portuguese: Perdela preta
Spanish: Pardela sombría
French: Puffin fuligineux
Italian: Berta grigia
German: Dunkle Sturmtaucher
Dutch: Grauwe pijlstormvogel
Swedish: Grålira
Norwegian: Grålire
Danish: - 
Finnish: Nokiliitäjä

Polish: Burzyk szary
RussianСерый буревестник

Salps fact sheet

Salpa fusiformis Salps

Salp is the name given to a set of planktonic species of tunicates of the Salpidae family, characterized by gelatinous bodies of cylindrical shape. These bodies move longitudinally, pumping the water through their bodies while filtering with a set of internal lamellar structures which retain plankton, its only known food. Salps are common in most oceans, occuring surface waters of equatorial, subtropical, temperate and cold waters, both as isolated individuals or colonies that consist of long linear chains of connected individuals. Their life cycle has mandatory alternating forms between generations. They are sequential hermaphrodites, initially maturing as females, and then fertilized by male gametes produced by older chains. Both life cycle forms co-exist in seawater, and although they appear very different, both are generally transparent, tubular, soft, with dimensions which are usually between 1 and 10 cm long. The solitary forms, known as "oozóides" are small barrel-shaped animals that reproduce asexually, producing a chain of tens to hundreds of individuals released from the parent as submicroscopic beings. This species can often be confused with Salpa aspera. May be seen in the Azores, in significant quantities.

Length1- 10 cm

Diet: Plankton and other small particles

Reproduction: Sexual (hermaphrodites)

Conservation Status: There is not concern for this species

In other languages:
Portuguese: Salpa
Spanish: Sálpidos
French: Salpida
Italian: Salpe/salpida
German: Salpidae
Dutch: Salpidae
Swedish: Bandsalper
Norwegian: -
Danish: Salpe
Finnish: -
Polish: Salpida/salpy
Russian: Са́льпы

Moon jellyfish fact sheet

Aurelia auritaMoon jellyfish 

The moon jellyfish is a member of the escifozoos class of jellyfish and one of the most abundant and common in all the world's oceans, mainly in coastal areas. It has four (or 5 to 7 ) horse shoe-shaped gonads which are symmetrically arranged. In females the gonads, or "moons" are pink in colour, whereas in males they are white. Moon jellyfish feed on zooplankton and small invertebrates such as crustaceans, and polychaetes. They use their tentacles to capture and paralyse their victims and guide them up to the mouth. Moon jellyfish swim by contracting their body with regular undulations. They stay near the surface, often travelling adrift on currents. Sometimes they are found stranded on the coast in large numbers, as they are not good swimmers. Their sting generally does not bother humans.

Length: Diameter: 5 - 40 cm

Diet: Zooplankton such as molluscs, crustaceans, tunicate larvae, copepods, rotifers and nematodes.

Reproduction: Sexual and asexual. Sexes are separate

Maturity: 3 months to 2 years  (ephyra to sexually reproducing medusa)

Conservation Status: There is no concern for the conservation of this species

In other languages:
Portuguese: Medusa de lua
Spanish: Medusa común
French: Méduse commune
Italian: Medusa quadrifoglio
German: Ohrenqualle
Dutch: Oorkwal
Swedish: Öronmanet
Norwegian: Glassmanet
Danish: Vandman
Finnish: Korvamedusa
Polish: Chełbia modra
Russian: Ушастая аурелия

Mauve stinger fact sheet

Pelagica noctiluca | Mauve stinger 

The mauve stinger can be find widely distributed throughout the world's warm and temperate oceans. Their colour varies, ranging from pink to shades of golden yellow to tan. Most jellyfish have a complex life cycle that alternates between a free swimming (medusa) and bottom-living (polyp) phase. However, the mause stinger has adapted so there is only a free swimming medusa stage wich is either male or female. Male and female jellyfish reproduce sexually by releasing eggs and sperm, which devolop directly into young (male or female) jellyfish. They are usually found in the upper 150 m of the water column, but may be found as deep as 1,400 m. At night they may be seen to bioluminesce. In the Azores these jellyfish occur frequently during the summer months, both isolated and in loose or dense blooms. Mauve stingers can deliver a painful sting to humans.

Diameter: 3 - 12 cm
Tentacles: 3 m (maximum)

Diet: Pelagic ascidians, zooplankton such as salps and other smaller jellyfish

Reproduction: Sexual, males and females release eggs and sperm

Population: Unkown

Conservation Status: Atlantic stocks appear to be healthy

In other languages:
Portuguese: Áqua-viva
Spanish: Acalefo luminiscente
French: Méduse pélagique/piqueur-mauve
Italian: Medusa luminosa
German: Leuchtqualle
Dutch: Parelkwal/lichtende kwal
Swedish: Lysmanet
Norwegian: -
Danish: -
Finnish: Loistomeduusa
Polish: Meduza świecąca
Russian: -

Common remora fact sheet

Remora remoraCommon remora

The common remora is one of the six remora species (Family Echeneidae) that occurs in the Azores. Remoras have an elongated body and are characterised by having a modified first dorsal fin and a head in the form of a suction cup. This suction cup or disc on the top of the head permits the remora to attach to other animals such as sharks, mantas, turtles, whales and dolphins. They are even known to attach to the hull of boats. This type of relationship with a host is commensal, meaning that one (the remora) benefits without harming the other (the host animal). The remora benefits by aquiring protection and food from the host. Although the bond is strong, remoras can also temporarary swim free in the open ocean or in coastal areas. Remoras are found in warm waters up to depths of 100 m. Little is known about the reproductive biology, although reproductive couples are known to share the same host.

35 - 40 cm (max 86,4 cm)

On hosts:  food scraps, ectoparasites and exrement of the host;
Free-swimming animals: small fish and invertebrates

Population: Unkown

Conservation Status: Not evaluated

In other languages:
Portuguese: Rémora
Spanish: Rémora
French: Rémora
Italian: Remore
German: Schiffshalter
Dutch: Remoras/zuigbaarzen
Swedish: Sugfisk/remora fisk
Norwegian: Sugefisk
Danish: -
Finnish: Remorat
Polish: Podnawkowate
Russian:  Прилипаловые

Spotted dolphin juvenile with remora

Spotted dolphin juvenile with remora

Fin whale with a remora attached below its dorsal fin

A giant oceanic manta ray with a remora on top of its head

Velella fact sheet

Velella velella | Velella 

Velella is also know as the "by the wind sailor" or "Jack sail by the wind". A single velella  is actually a hydroid colony of numerous all-female polyps, each with one of three different specialised functions:

1) Feeding - a large tubular individual with a mouth  in the centre of colony (Gastrozoid)

2) Defense - several smaller individuals surrounding the feeding individual ( Dactylozooid)

3) Reproduction and Defense - the remaining individuals of the colony (Gonozooid)

The blue colour comes from a pigment, astaxantine, which protects the colony from sunlight. During the spring and autumn it is common to see large chains or aggregations of velellas known as blooms. Wind and currents can push these blooms so that mass strandings can occur on beaches. Although they use toxins to catch their prey, velellas are essentially harmless to humans.

Colony6 - 7 cm
Medusa: 1 mm

Diet: Crustaceans and fish larvae and eggs.

Reproduction: Bipartite life cycle with alternate asexual and sexually reproducing generations in the form of polyps and medusas respectively.

Population: Unknown

Conservation Status: Unknown

In other languages:
Portuguese: Velela
Spanish: Velella
French: Vélelle
Italian: Barchetta di San Pietro
German: Segelqualle
Dutch: Bezaantje
Swedish: Bidevindseglare
Norwegian: Bidevindseiler
Danish: Bidevindssejler
Finnish: Purjehtijamaneetti
Polish: -
Russian: Парусница

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