Friday, February 29, 2008

Good weather and whales

The end of February brought us some very good weather. It's just like summer in the Azores. We have sun, good temperature and most importat for us...good visibility. On our tour in the morning we saw common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins. In the afternoon our vigia (onshore lookout) moved to another area of the island to try to spot some whales...with good results. We ended up with about five or six sperm whales. On a day day like today every body ends up satisfied: our clients and crew alike returned to our office with a smile on their faces.

Sperm whales logging

Overall our sighings have been better this February in comparison to last year. This year we saw more sperm whales!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

How many whales did you say?

At least 20 to 22, or maybe more! They are all there, it seems like the whole sperm whale family. 
It's so nice to have a summers day when we are still in the winter season. Another sunny day with very good visibility and best of all whales and dolphins to see. In the morning our boat was with common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and sperm whales. The afternoon was very similar. So today our mission was accomplished: a lot of happy people full of emotions. Thanks to mother nature!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Feels like summer

The morning brought us a calm day with flat sea, no wind and a shining sun. We got the best conditions to go whale watching! We had to wait until the afternoon because that was when today's tour was booked. Not a problem because the good conditions continued into the afternoon. Just five minutes after we left the marina we had our first encounter with some Risso's dolphins. It was a small group (about half a dozen) old dolphins. Following this encounter we headed for the common dolphins that were spread into many small groups across a vast area. They travelled with us for a long time while we waited for whales to appear. We waited and waited....but no whales today.

Friday, February 22, 2008

At last the whales have arrived!

Sperm whale raising its fluke to initiate a deep dive

Our tour this morning started with some good news that our vigia (onshore lookout) had sighted some fin whales. We already had the feeling that the day of seeing whales arrived....but thea shower of rain soon dampened our spirits.  Instead of the whales we had to focus on what we had for the morning: common dolphins, Risso's and striped dolphins. Still not bad, seeing three different species during a tour.
The real surprise was reserved for the afternoon tour. We left the harbour thinking about seeing more dolphins but were soon told the news that our vigia (onshore lookout) had spotted about a dozen sperm whales! The group was composed of females and calves that were just hanging out very relaxed and curious and always staying in the same area. Our passengers had the chance to see two calves passing under the boat. It was a fantastic evening spent with whales as well as common dolphins. This is what whale watching is all about!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dolphins in the big blue

Both the sky and the sea were a beautiful blue colour today. This goregeous day with spent with many common dolphins. There were bottlenose dolphins around too, but they were travelling in an aparant rush so that we could not keep up with them. As for the whales...we hope they will be here tomorrow.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Monday with a sunfish

Today it was a little bit wet with some fresh wind and waves during our morning observation. Since we left the marina we encountered only common dolphins, and alot of splashes here and there. Then just as we were returning to Ponta delgada we were surprised when we saw an intereseting fin. At first it looked like a shark but it was in fact a sunfish (Mola mola), the largest bony fish in the world! We stopped the boat to have a look and the fish seemed to be interested in us, enough for us to be able to get some nice photos.

Sunfish (Mola mola)

A weekend full of dolphins

One more weekend out on the ocean with good weather, a lot of dolphins but...still now whales.
There have been common dolphins everywhere, just half a mile from Relva. This weekend we also sighted a large group of bottlenose dolphins south of Lagoa. The dolphins gave us a joyfull weekend.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A nice day with our 3 resident dolphin species

Today was another day of good weather and to make it better we had dolphins everywhere.
We had 3 different species of dolphins: common, Risso's (in the photo below) and bottlenose dolphins. The common dolphins were spread across a large area, all the time with a very calm behaviour and happy to welcome the boats. On the other hand the bottlenose were in a small group and not so interested in seeing us. The Risso´s dolphins were in a group of about 12 individuals, and these ones let us come closer. We had the chance to stay with them for a few minutes, allowing people to enjoy the moment. The calm sea and the warm sun helped to make it  a nice day on the ocean.

Risso's dolphin

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Another good surprise

Another windy day on the island! The sea was ok, just a little bumpy but with good enough conditions for us to work in. We went out just in the morning today and came across a group of common dolphins south of Água de Pau. They were very active which was great for us! Following this encounter we passed some Risso's dolphins around some traditional fishing boats. It is very common for us to see Risso's near these boats, waiting for their chance to take some of their squid, something stealing it directly from the fishermens' lines. We encountered one more group of common dolphins before heading back along the coastline, passing Vila Franca islet along the way. At the ilset we found our surprise of the day - a double-crested cormorant which is a rare vagrant bird here in the Azores. It was the very first time that we have seen this particular bird species here in the island. The bird avoided the boat, diving into the water and making it difficult for us to get good photos. Still we did manage to get one to remind us of our encounter:

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Common Dolphins again on a gray day.

The morning comes fogy and very gray. Not a good signal for the next hours. With this conditions it's difficult to look with binoculars far from one mile of the shores and discover whales or dolphins. Our possibility for today is only dolphins. And was what we get as soon as we leave the hourbor of Ponta Delgada. Some minutes... and we get the Common Dolphins. On a small and there. It's a caracteristic of our last encounters with Common Dolphins on the last days: they are on a big number but isolated on small groups. Well, with this weather conditions we can't hope better...

Friday, February 8, 2008

At last a beautifull sunny day

Today we had a pleasant day out on the ocean: a nice warm sun, blue sky and calm sea. We hoped with those conditions the vigias (onshore lookouts) would spot some whales, but unfortunately they didn't. We spent the day with common dolphins and Risso's dolphins instead. At the end of our last tour we had a nice surprise: the cory's shearwater are back to nest in the Azores for the summer. We saw a large group, around two miles from the coast of Ponta Delgada.
Let's hope the baleen whales will also start appearing soon.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Another windy day

Today is another windy, but at least not a wet one. We spent the morning bouncing over the waves and watching the common dolphins wave surfing and feeding. We also saw Risso's dolphins although they passed too quickly for us to all see them. One boat did have the chance to observe them and they noted that they saw some very large and white individuals, indicating that they were older Risso's dolphins. At the end of the day everybody looked happy with what they had seen.

Monday, February 4, 2008

January 2008 sighting statistics

January was not a strong month for whale watching due to rain, wind and fog and therefore very few tours and difficult conditions to work in. In this month we have seen four cetacean species (pilot whale, Risso's dolphin, bottlenose dolphin and common dolphin). Our highest sighting frequency was with common dolphins which were sighted in 100% of the days we went to sea!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Dolphins and windy weather

Today and yesterday we went out to try to show cetaceans to our guests. At this time of the year the weather in the Azores is windy, rainy a a bit foggy too. These conditions are not the best find whales and dolpins because it is difficult for our vigias (onshore lookouts) to spot whales very far from shore. But still we ended up with common dolphins, Risso's dolphins and bottlenose dolphins. Not bad considering the conditions. We must wait for the end of winter to start seeing the big baleen whales.
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