Monday, May 30, 2011

Today in São Miguel we were very lucky that it turned out to be one of those perfect days of great weather, clear calm seas and great sightings. Today we had encounters with sperm whales, bottlenose dolphins, striped dolphins and common dolphins. The forecast for tomorrow is for another calm day, so we are looking forward to more sucessful whale watching tours.

Two mother and calf pairs of common dolphins swimming alongside our boat this afternoon

Common dolphin

One of the many sperm whales see today

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Photos from some of our passengers last week

Here are some photos kindly shared by two of our passengers from last week. The first photo of a sperm whale diving was taken by Ola Rönnerup (who also contributed the great bubble-blowing crab photos in our last blog post). The second photos of a blue whale sighted here last week were taken by Maarten Groot. We always appreciate feedback from our customers and are always very glad to receive photos from their experiences. Thank you to Ola and Maarten.

Sperm whale diving - Photo taken by Ola Rönnerup

Blue whale - Photo taken by Maarten Groot

Blue whale diving - Photo taken by Maarten Groot

These are just some of our sightings of what is turning out to be a great season. We are already having many sperm whales sightings, including today in both the morning and afternoon. We are looking forward to many more great tours to come.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

crab blowing bubbles

So the other day a client, Ola Rönnerup, came in with these photos showing a crab blowing bubbles asking us if we know what it was up to. Being so much into cetaceans I am afraid that our decapod knowledge might have slipped a bit behind, however, we soon found out that crabs do this to aerate their gills and to keep them moist. Cool! Thanks Ola.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Above is a photo of one of the two fin whales that was seen off the coast of São Miguel during our whale watching tour this afternoon. Although the sea was choppy today we still managed to get some good looks at the two large fin whales, aswell as two sperm whales and a group of bottlenose dolphins this morning.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Today was the third day in a row that we had very calm seas here in São Miguel. This makes it easier to spot whales and gives great viewing conditions for our observations. Throughout the day we could see over 50 nautical miles, which meant that our vigias (onshore watchmen) spotted sperm whales about 28 miles off the coastline. It wasn't just sperm whales that we saw. In both the morning and afternoon we also saw common dolphins, and in the afternoon we had a bonus sighting of 2 fin whales. All of our sightings were excellent and benefited from the great water visibility. Here are some photos taken during today's tours:

Sperm whale raising its tail to go on a deep dive

Sperm whale mother and calf pair

One of the 2 fin whales we saw this afternoon

Friday, May 20, 2011

A perfect day on the sea

Today was another beautiful clear, calm and warm day which made for great conditions for whale and dolphin watching. The sea was as flat as a mirror and very clear down to at least 20 meters. Throughout this perfect day we had sightings of sperm whales, common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins. All of these animals were very close to shore, just outside of Ponta Delgada where our tours depart from. It couldn´t have been much better today. Throughout the day we got to see several female sperm whales with their small calves. We saw several of the sperm whales bringing up their great tails to go on their deep dives, and a lot of very sociable dolphins. The bottlenose dolphins that we saw during the afternoon were particularly memorable as it was a very large active group in which all the dolphins were travelling together with our boat. We are expecting more great weather this weekend, so we are anticipating more great sightings in the coming days.

Watching bottlenose dolphins from our catamaran

Bottlenose dolphin - one of our resident species in the Azores

Female sperm whale raising its tail to go on a dive

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Today we had another great day of whale watching in São Miguel island. We were very lucky to have very calm and clear water today with plenty of dolphins and whales around throughout the day. During the morning we saw 4 species: sperm whales, a blue whale, common dolphins, and one lone bottlenose dolphin. Although the sperm whales were a bit difficult to observe in the morning, the blue whale sighting was very good. It may have been one of the blue whales that we saw yesterday. By looking at the photos from both days we will be able to tell whether it is the same individual.

The afternoon trip was also successful with more sperm whale sightings and plenty of time with a sociable group of common dolphins. This time the sperm whales were more approachable so we saw a few tails and a small calf. A loggerhead turtle was a bonus on the way home!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Blue whales in São Miguel today

This morning we were very lucky to have our first blue whale sighting of the month in São Miguel island. We had not seen blue whales since the middle of last month, so it was a really nice surprise for us and our passengers to see these incredible animals passing by on their north-bound migration. They were both very large individuals, and we were lucky to have very clear water so that we could see their full body length under the water before they came up to breathe. We were even lucky enough to see one of the whales raise its tail to go on a dive, something which we do not see very often from this species. Here are some photos from the whales seen on this tour:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

CETUS the brand new catamaran of FUTURISMO

Our new catamaran CETUS arrived to São Miguel island today. In a few days the boat will start to sail our waters looking for whales and dolphins.

CETUS novo catamaran da Futurismo

Chegou hoje a Ponta Delgada o novo catamaran da empresa Futurismo. A embarcação terá como principal vocação a observação de baleias e golfinhos. Estão programadas outras acções no ambito da animação turística.
Trata-se de um barco que é fruto de 21 anos de experiencia da Futurismo e foi construído especialmente para o chamado Whale Watching. Dispõe de generosos espaços exteriores que permitem uma observação de 360 graus ao nível do convés e do tombadilho. Na frente existe um anfiteatro que proporciona um acesso exepcional para o campo de visão dos cetáceos.
O barco dispõe ainda de um amplo salão e casas de banho.
O CETUS obedece às normas europeias para navios de passageiros e foi homologado pelo IPTM. Dentro de dias estará a navegar nos mares de São Miguel.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Today was a beautiful day in São Miguel. The sea was really calm and clear and by mid morning the sun made an appearance to warm the day. It was one of those great days of many sightings on the sea. We had some really great encounters with our resident bottlenose dolphins and also with a group of striped dolphins that were leaping across the flat surface in the characteristic way that they travel. The whale species seen today were sperm whales for both the morning and afternoon tours, and a humpback whale mother and calf in the afternoon. These photos taken today give an impression of this great day:

Striped dolphins travelling together at high speed

Sperm whale diving

Humpback whales (calf on the left, mother on the right)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Hundreds of common dolphins surfing the waves

Today we have a fair bit of wind in São Miguel, so the sea is a little rough. However, with our large catamaran we were still able to go on a tour this morning. Not to far out of Ponta delgada we came across a group of common dolphins. More dolphins kept coming until eventually we were surrounded by hundreds of dolphins. The dolphins were being very playfull and kept coming up in groups to surf with the waves. Here are some photos from the tour:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sightings today: sperm whales, common dolphins, sei whales and bottlenose dolphins

Today we had another great day of whale watching. During the morning tour, groups of common dolphins and sperm whales were seen off the South coast of São Miguel island. In the afternoon we went out with the intention of seeing the sperm whales again, but the tour turned completely different. Instead we saw 5 Sei whales and a large group of bottlenose dolphins. Out here every tour is unique, you never really know what you will be seeing, which is makes it more exciting. Here are some photos from our afternoon tour today:

Bottlenose dolphins seen very close to the coastline this afternoon

Some of the 5 sei whales that we saw travelling together in the afternoon

Mr Liable

Yesterday a sperm whale that we call Mr Liable visited the waters of São Miguel again. Mr Liable is a large male that we see here on a regular basis and we have come to know him very well. We can recognise him by the marks on his flukes and now also by the scars which we noticed on his head yesterday. During our afternoon tour yesterday Mr Liable showed us the most magnificent tail as he went on his dive. He lifted his tail so high that it looked like he might flip over completely. Yesterday we also saw common dolphins, saw it was another sucessful day of whale watching in São Miguel.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

April sighting statistics

The month of April has been really good this year for whale watching in São Miguel. This month we have seen 11 cetacean species: 6 whale species and 5 dolphin species! This is the month that the baleen whale species are passing the Azores, so we have seen many of these, especially Sei whales. We are also starting to get many sperm whale sightings (almost 50% of the days we went out in April), which is a good sign that summer is on its way. The above graph shows the sighting frequency of the species we saw in April:

  • Common dolphin (Delphinus delphis)

  • Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

  • Striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba)

  • Risso´s dolphin (Grampus griseus)

  • Pilot whale (Globicephalus macrorhynchus)

  • Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus)

  • Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

  • Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus)

  • Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)

  • Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis)

  • Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus)
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