Saturday, July 31, 2010

Account of one of our full-day tours

Over the past few weeks we have been running many of our special tour packages that Futurismo offers. A popular choice for many people is our Full Day package: whale watching in the morning, a lunch at a local restaurant in Vila Franca do Campo and finally the afternoon is spent relaxing and snorkeling at Vila Franca islet.

Ilhéu de Vila Franca (Vila Franca islet) is a sunken volcanic crater in the sea, just off the coast of Vila Franca do Campo. This small islet is a protected area, so it is a great place to see some of the unspoiled natural beauty of the Azores.

Today we had another one of these Full Day tours of whale watching and visiting the islet. During the morning we saw sperm whales, Atlantic spotted dolphins, and common dolphins. In the afternoon the wind picked up so the sea became a little choppy. However, the natural shallow lagoon in the centre of Vila Franca islet is very sheltered, so we were able to enjoy an afternoon of swimming in the warm calm waters. The water here is very clear, so while snorkeling we have been able to observe many different species of fish.

Here we also have the opportunity to see some our local bird species that nest in burrows and along the cliff faces of the islet. The surrounding rock formations shaped by the sea and wind are also worth seeing.

This is just one of the many tour packages that we offer. As well as whale and dolphin watching, Futurismo also organises jeep safaris, walking tours, and geological tours to show you the volcanic formations along the island. We have prepared mixed tours of both the land and sea, and we can also prepare special tours and packages to suit your preferences. Please contact us if you would like to talk to one of our staff about your next tour with us.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Whales and dolphins close to shore

During the last two days the sea has been a little choppy, especially this afternoon when the wind picked up a bit. However, we have still been able to get out and have some very sucessfull tours. We have seen more of our resident sperm whales, Atlantic spotted dolphins (always with many calves), common dolphins, and bottlenose dolphins very close to shore. The above photograph is of one of the bottlenose dolphins we were viewing during a tour yesterday.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

July update - rare beaked whales and more

During the last few weeks here it has been perfect for whale and dolphin watching. This means that our crew has been busy running many different tours every day, with not much of a chance to give updates from our amazing tours. All of our tours have been successful and have have resulted in many happy passengers. This month we have had some great encounters with large groups of sperm whales, pilot whales, bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins, Risso's dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins, and striped dolphins. This morning we even had a rare encounter with some beaked whales. Our swimming tours have also been in full swing. Since the Atlantic spotted dolphins have arrived in our waters we have had some great swimming tours with them, as well as our resident bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins. We invite you to come and test our waters for yourself!!

One of the beaked whales we saw this morning! 
(Not often seen because the spend very little time at the surface)

Large active group of common dolphins

One of our many sperm whale encounters. 
This day we counted at least 8 sperm whales side-by-side on the surface

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pilot whales, sperm whales, bottlenose dolphins, and common dolphins

Watching some of the many pilot whales we saw today

Pilot whale calf

Pod of sperm whale seen during our morning tour

Today was a great day for seeing pilot whales. Especially during the afternoon when we came across three large seperate groups of pilot whales. Each group consisted of at least 15 individuals, including several females with young calves and some very large males. All our passengers also saw our resident bottlenose dolphins today, and during our morning tour we also encountered common dolphins and sperm whales. We counted at least 5 adult sperm whales all socialising and travelling together with a smaller calf. We were particularly lucky with our sightings today because the visibility was excellent and the water was calm and clear.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

More great whale and dolphin sightings

Viewing some Atlantic spotted dolphins

Atlantic spotted dolphin mother and calf

Some of the bottlenose dolphins that were part of a large concencentrated group

Today we had another very good day on the water, with many great sightings. During our morning tour we saw sperm whales, pilot whales, and Atlantic spotted dolphins. In the afternoon we saw the sperm whales and pilot whales again, and a group of bottlenose dolphins. Our dolphin sightings today were particularly good. Our spotted dolphin encounter included a lot of very young calves that were leaping high out of the water as the pod travelled at speed. The bottlenose dolphins that we saw were very concentrated in a tight group, giving us an excellent look.

One of the sperm whales we saw this morning

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Week of the pilot whales and sperm whales

July sightings so far...

Now that we are well and truly into the summer season the Futurismo team has been busy running many of our different tours that we offer. During the first week of this month we have already had some great sightings, including the first appearance of Atlantic spotted dolphins, which is a very good indication that the  summer is truly here (we only see this species during the warmer months of the year). Other dolphin species seen so far are striped dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, and common dolphins. This morning we also saw a group of about 6 beaked whales (they appeared to be Sowerby's beaked whales), which was a very lucky encounter as beaked whales are generally very elusive and usually very difficult see properly. Pilot whales and sperm whales have been the stars of the show in a lot of our recent tours. During our encounters with these species we have seen some very interesting behaviour, including a lot of group social behaviour from both species and breaching from a young sperm whale this afternoon!

Sperm whale breaching!!!

A group of pilot whales seen socialising at the surface

Sperm whale food: Large octopus or squid seen floating in the water around a group of sperm whales

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A new giant sperm whale

C. Letenneur / Natural History Museum
An artistic rendition of monster whale Leviathan Melvillei attacking a smaller baleen whale

A report is out concerning a new giant sperm whale species, Leviathan melvillei, (after Herman Melville the author of Moby Dick) from the Middle Miocene (approximately 12–13 million years ago). This "beast" featured a 3 m long head and had teeth in both jaws(unlike the modern day sperm whale, Physeter macrocephalus, which only has functional teeth in the lower jaw). The teeth had a maximum length of 36 cm and are the largest cetacean teeth ever discovered. It is proposed that Leviathan fed mostly on medium-size dbaleen whales. (ref. Nature). Although there is no chance of seeing a living Levianthan melvillei we feel happy that its less harmful relative (that targets mostly cephalopods), Physeter macrocephalus, is going strong.
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