December this year has been really amazing for whale watching and dolphin swimming with Futurismo! In fact this past month we have achieved a record number of days on the sea as well as whale and dolphin sightings compared to the past five years. We have been out 17 days this month and had several encounters with 7 different cetacean species (humpback whales, sperm whales, pilot whales, Risso´s dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins). Our humpback whale sightings were a first for this time of the year, and it wasn't just one but two different individuals that we saw! Another special December sighting for us was a leatherback turtle last week. In the following graph you can see the sighting frequencies of the different cetacean species we have seen this December:
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Friday, December 30, 2011
Today was a busy day for us with several boats going out on two rounds of tours. In the morning our whale watching and swimming clients encountered several groups of common dolphins. Those that came whale watching with us in the afternoon were more lucky as we encountered not only the common dolphins, but also Atlantic spotted dolphins and sperm whales! Of the four whales we encountered up close we managed to get the following good tail shot of an individual that we also encountered on the 19th of December.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Another fantastic day on the sea! Today we had beautiful weather and there were 3 dolphin species around for us to see: common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins. The spotted dolphins were particularly great as it was a group of at least 400 dolphins, including many very small newborn calves. It's really nice for us to still be seeing such a large group of these dolphins so late in the season, as last year we already stopped seeing them on December 22nd as they head furhter south for the winter.
Have a look at the following Atlantic spotted dolphin photos from today's tour:
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
This morning we had our final tour before Christmas day and it was a good one! We had a group of sperm whales close to shore, including several females with their young. There were also plenty of common dolphins as well as a few bottlenose dolphins and Risso's dolphins.
A great Christmas treat for those that came whale watching with us today!!
Friday, December 23, 2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
This morning we were very lucky as we got to see a humpback whale. Such a sighting is rather unusual for this time of the year and it was our second this month! Our identification photos that we took of this whale and the humpback whale we saw on December 5th (see our previous blog post) show that they are different individuals. It's really amazing to see not just one, but two humpback whales this month!
The whale we saw today was a bit difficult to watch as it spent a lot of time diving, but we did manage to get a few nice looks and the following photos:
Monday, December 19, 2011
Again this morning we sighted 4 cetacean species!
This time it was sperm whales, Risso's dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins and common dolphins. We were really lucky with our sightings and sea conditions which were perfect. There were many sperm whales around, these are just a few of them:
Of the many whales we saw we managed to see 5 of them bringing up their tails, and from photos of these we could recognise some individuals that we had seen before. 4 of the whales have been sighted here before, including back in July and August of this year, and even as far back as 2006. It's great to see these whales returning to this area! Our dolphin encounters also turned out great. The following two photos are of a Risso's dolphin mother and calf pair that we came across towards the end of our tour, before we finished off with a great encounter of common dolphins just outside our marina.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
This year December is turning out to be really great for us here in São Miguel. This morning we had dolphin swimming and whale watching and it was just like summer! We had blue skies, a nice comfortable temperature, calm sea and 4 cetacean species to see: sperm whales, pilot whales, bottlenose dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins. To top it off we also spotted a loggerhead turtle on our way back.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
It seems that summer is still here in the Azores. The weather has been great recently, much better than this time last year. We have already had many very good whale watching trips this month, and this morning was no exception. The sea was perfectly calm and there were groups of dolphins everywhere! We came across many groups of common dolphins feeding, with Cory's shearwaters and other seabirds all around them.
Common dolphins swimming in front of our boat
We also had a really nice encounter with a group of about 15 Risso's dolphins. We had the bonus of seeing at least one small calf and several juveniles in this group. In the following photo you can see really well how scratched and scarred this dolphin species becomes over its lifetime.
Risso's dolphins (2 adults with the head of a smaller calf just to the right)
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Another great day for whale watching in São Miguel today. This year December is turning out to be a really good month for us! Today we saw common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and sperm whales. The group of sperm whales, which included at least 5 adults and a calf were seen together with a group of bottlenose dolphins swimming around them. One of the adult sperm whales became very curious and left the other whales and dolphins to come and investigate our boat.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
This morning we set out for what turned out to be another great whale watching trip. This time we encountered one of at least two sperm whales that were making dives far off the coastline, in an area where the water is over 900 meters deep. Just by looking at the size of the whale that we encountered we could instantly see it was a male. This whale was huge! We more commonly encouter the smaller females, so it was really great to see such a big individual. The whale was one that we did not recognise from the sperm whale catalogue we have, so now we are going to check with other researchers to see if this whale has been photographed elsewhere.
Some of the Cory's shearwaters that were feeding with the common dolphins
Monday, December 5, 2011
This morning we took out a nice group of Spanish clients and they were in for a very special and lucky treat that even surprised the crew. Just outside of our departure point in Ponta delgada we encountered a humpback whale. We got to see this magnificent whale breaching (jumping out of the water) a few times before it started slapping its long pectoral fins on the waters surface. Check out the following photos we managed to take of this whale:
After the fin slapping the whale started going on deep dives, which is when we saw it bringing up its tail like this
The humpback whale was seen travelling close to shore, just off the coast of Ponta delgada
It was a real surprise for us to see this species of whale, as they are not commonly seen here this time of the year. Baleen whales, such as this humpback whale normally migrate past the Azores during the spring months, which is when they are heading to the Arctic waters to feed during the summer months. This whale could be on its way back down south for the winter and may be stopping here for a quick snack as we saw the whale going on several deep dives later during our encounter. Whatever the reason for it being here we were very glad that it passed São Miguel Island!
Of course our passengers were delighted to see dolphins during their tour as well. They got to see a couple of groups of Atlantic spotted dolphins followed by some common dolphins. Our onshore watchman (known locally as the vigia) reported that there were also a couple of bottlenose dolphins and Risso's dolphins around earlier in the morning, so today there was definitely not a shortage of species to be seen here!!!
One of the common dolphins jumping close to our boat
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
The month of November has not been the easiest for whale watching, as we have been experiencing a lot of bad weather as the winter is been kicking in. We have only managed to go out on 10 days this month, many of which were only mornings as the sea conditions have often been worsening later in the day.
But we still managed to see the following :
- Common dolphins (seen on 50% of the days we went out).
- Bottlenose dolphins (seen on 30% of the days we went out).
- Atlantic spotted dolphins (seen on 50% of the days we went out).
- Risso's dolphins (seen on 20% of the days we went out).
- Pilot whales (seen on 10% of the days we went out).
- Beaked whales (seen on 10% of the days we went out).
- Sperm whales (seen on 40% of the days we went out).
Seeing beaked whales this month was a bonus, as they are very elusive animals that are not seen often and are very difficult to watch. So our sightings this month have not been too bad, especially for this time of the year.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Today is one of those perfect days. The sun is shinning, the sea is calm and there are sperm whales everywhere! This morning we went out and saw many of the sperm whales from this group, including several females with their calves. We also saw 2 of our resident bottlenose dolphins (the same 2 we saw last week) and some very friendly Atlantic spotted doplhins. Our passengers were all smiles after this fantastic tour!
Sperm whale raising its tail to go on a deep dive