Saturday, July 30, 2011

A lovely day on the sea, especially with the super friendly Atlantic spotted dolphins and their calves... click here for a video of these sociable dolphins bow-riding our catamaran, Cetus. Other encounters today included sperm whales and common dolphins!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A big thank you to Roland Nordbeck for sharing these photos that he took on May 18th during a whale watching tour with us. On this trip he was celebrating his birthday and he described his sightings of the following blue whale and loggerhead turtle as being the perfect birthday present. We are very happy to have shared this moment with him and the rest of our clients.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

An incredibly friendly group of bottlenose dolphins this morning!

The pod stayed with us for about 35 minutes, travelling west, playing alongside the boat and bow-riding up the front with their calves.. the adults teaching the juveniles how to surf?! Amazing to watch. Bottlenose dolphins are seen regularly on our trips (over half of the days so far this month) and we've come to know some of the individuals quite well. One of our biologists photographs as many dorsal fins as possible for analysis when we're back on shore to identify the "residents", or animals we see multiple times, so we can learn more about individuals and the species as a whole.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Common dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins kept us company on the way to the Ilhéu de Vila Franca this morning, seen below just off the coast of São Miguel.


A visit to this beautiful island is included in one of our full-day tour options, after whale & dolphin watching in the morning and a hearty lunch in Vila Franca do Campo, and is especially popular this time of year. It was an particularly good choice today as Ponta Delgada is a little cloudy, whereas the sun is shining over Vila Franca! Usually our guests divide their time in the afternoon between sunbathing, swimming and snorkeling in the submerged volcanic crater, a natural reserve. Because fishing is forbidden in the vicinity of the islet there is plenty to see while snorkeling  and despite sea conditions being a little rough today the crater lake is always calm and protected.

The islet is a perfect nesting spot for a variety of birdlife - rock pigeons, common terns, Cory's shearwaters and yellow-legged gulls are among the birds that call the volcanic crater home. Our guests are always eager to see the Cory's shearwaters in particular, a species that comes to the Azorean archipelago to breed during the summer and is renowned for it's peculiar mating call. Sometimes when we're really lucky we also see pairs of milhafres (Azorean buzzards) swooping above the islet, a bird symbolic of the Azores.

Chat to one of our staff or check out for more info about the combined whalewatching and Ilhéu de Vila Franca trip, or one of our other options if you want to make the most of a full-day combination of sea and land activities!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A beautiful day on the ocean with a lot of species

A beautiful day on the ocean today! Especially this afternoon, the sea was calm and glassy, brilliant for observing marine life. We've been watching and swimming with Atlantic spotted dolphins and bottlenose dolphins all day, plus observing Risso's dolphins and a great group of sperm whales in the afternoon. The sperm whales had been too far offshore in the morning to go out to them but our vigias (lookouts) watched them from land all day and finally this afternoon they were close enough to travel out to! It was worth it too, to see the three adults and one juvenile socialising together at the surface and then diving nearly simultaneously so we had the chance for some great tail photos! Here are a few from the day:

Friday, July 22, 2011

A big thank you to Peeter Londo from Estonia for sending in these photos of sperm whales as they dived while we were alongside them last week!

Peeter was hoping we could identify the individuals but unfortunately the photos aren't clear enough - does anybody else have photos of the whales diving during the morning trip on Friday 15th? is the place to send them. We need to be able to see the tail in focus to see every notch and scratch to be able to make a positive ID. What we do know for sure however was that it was a juvenile and an adult female, probably the mother. We remember them well as the juvenile put on quite a show for one of our boats, unexpectedly breaching (jumping) out of the water!

We haven't seen sperm whales so far today, but we have encountered a visiting pod of pilot whales and a few groups of common, bottlenose and Atlantic spotted dolphins. There's a lot of very small calves around at the moment so we've really enjoyed watching these nursey groups as the little ones learn how to jump and swim alongside the adults! Here's just one of many, this individual is a baby spotted dolphin (although he hasn't had time to develop his spots yet!)...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sperm whales, dolphins and more dolphins

The last couple of days we have had more great sightings out at sea. We have mostly been seeing dolphins recently, especially large groups of Atlantic spotted dolphins which have been putting on quite a show with their spectacular high leaps and social behaviour. We have also been seeing many bottlenose dolphins, pilot whales yesterday and sperm whales today. The following photos show some of the great moments of the past couple of days:

This afternoon: Sperm whale mother and calf bringing up their tails together to go on a dive together

Some pictures of our recent encounters with the very acrobatic Atlantic spotted dolphins

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Today we have some great photos to share with you from guests who have been out with us over the last few days. First up is this great image of common dolphins taken by Igor Lebrun who was out watching whales and dolphins on one of our small boats:

Also, a big congratulations to Mark and Charlie Schenk who were recently married and spent their honeymoon on the island with us! Mark has kindly given us some of his photos from the last few days - we're hoping to be able to identify the sperm whales they saw once our marine biologists have a chance to work through our extensive photo catalogue of sperm whale tails. Each sperm whale has a unique tail, much like our fingerprints, so hopefully we'll soon be able to let Mark and Charlie know if we can identify the individual. If it is a whale we haven't seen before then they will be able to name it for us for future sightings! This applies to any individual we can't identify so please keep sending in any tail fluke photos you have from trips with us to You'll know there's a sperm whale out in the Atlantic ocean with a name you've chosen and we'll be able to keep building our photo ID catalogue which is essential if we want to continue learning about these incredible animals.

Mark also snapped the following great shots of various marine life. Firstly, a lovely photo of an Atlantic spotted dolphin with her calf - notice how spotted the mother is compared to the younger animal, the calves are born completely grey and develop spots as they age.

Below we have a Cory's shearwater - a species of shearwater that comes to the Azores to breed during the summer. We are lucky enough to see about 60-70 % of their population throughout the islands and often see them out at sea, swooping close to the water's surface riding the wind.

And last but not least, a group of common dolphins swimming close to shore - sometimes we have to travel a few miles offshore to observe marine mammals, but as you can see in this case we didn't have to go far from land this time!

A big thank you to Igor, Mark and Charlie. Hope to see you again soon - and a big congratulations again to the newlyweds!

Monday, July 18, 2011

So far today we have already seen 4 cetacean species: sperm whales, Atlantic spotted dolphins, common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins. This was just during our morning trip. One of our boats is currently out for an afternoon whale watching tour, so we are hoping they will return with good news of more great sightings. The past few weeks have generally been very good in terms of sightings and weather. In fact, conditions have been so great that we have been out to sea every day for the past 5 weeks. The summer is a very good time of year for whale watching in the Azores, as this is when we get to see many sperm whale groups as well as many dolphins. This month so far we have already seen 8 species, including dolphins every day and sperm whales almost 80% of the days. This is also the the best time of the year to see many calves and swim with dolphins:

Swimming with bottlenose dolphins

Atlantic spotted dolphins - mother and calf

Bottlenose dolphins - mother and calf

Friday, July 15, 2011

Despite some cloud on the island, our vigias (lookouts) have been spotting plenty of marine wildlife today where out at sea it's been much sunnier - firstly a group of sperm whales socialising at the surface, with this individual rolling over and spyhopping so we could see its lower jaw.

Sperm whales can have up to 26 teeth on either side of the lower jaw, each of which can meaure up to 25cm in length and weigh as much as a kilogram - here in the Azores many people still have teeth from the whaling days when whalers practised the art of scrimshaw, or engraving, on these huge teeth, to pass the time at sea.

The art of scrimshaw

Sperm whales diving this morning

Our swimming groups and whalewatchers also had encounters with common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins. The bottlenose dolphins were especially friendly today - one group swam alongside our catamaran for quite some distance before we stopped to observe a sperm whale resting at the surface between its long dives.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Today we had a beautiful start to our morning whale watching trips. When we departed the sun was already bright and warm and it didn't take us too long to come across a group of sperm whales just outside of Ponta Delgada. We got to see many high tails as the sperm whales went on their deep dives. From our sightings we could confirm that there were more than 10 sperm whales in this group. There were also plenty of dolphins around: Atlantic spotted dolphins and common dolphins. The spotted dolphins were particularly curious about our boats, so we got to have some great close encounters from our boats, as well as from the water for our dolphin swimming trip. The following photos our from our great encounters this morning:

Watching a sperm whale in the morning sun

One of the many sperm whale tails we saw

Atlantic spotted dolphins up close

Our afternoon tours were just as good. Our swimmers spent their time swimming again with Atlantic spotted dolphins, while the whale watchers had also encountered spotted dolphins as well as sperm whales, Risso's dolphins, common dolphins and striped dolphins.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sperm whales, common dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins have been sighted on our trips so far today..

Atlantic spotted dolphins

We're also keeping an eye on the news to see what is achieved at this year's annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission taking place this week. Seeing whales and dolphins in their natural habitat every day naturally makes us passionate about their welfare so we're hoping agreements are made to limit the whaling which still goes on in some countries. We have a very rich whaling history here in the Azores but we are very happy to have made the transition to sustainable whalewatching, in the hope that the more people learn about these incredible creatures the more motivated we will all be to protect them and our shared environment. English journalist and writer Philip Hoare visited the islands recently and raises some interesting questions here: At Futurismo we believe in responsible whalewatching and hope that observing whales and dolphins in the wild inspires our guests to minimise their impact on the marine environment.

Monday, July 11, 2011

After a cloudy start to the day, the skies have finally cleared and the sun has reappeared so our guests are out enjoying encounters with a group of sperm whales, some very fast moving striped dolphins, and pods of Atlantic spotted dolphins and common dolphins.

A guest from last week has kindly sent in some pictures from his whalewatching trip during which we spent some time with a big group of pilot whales - see below, thank you to Magnus Ekberg! We are currently putting together a photo ID catalogue of pilot whales to better understand the animals we see in our waters, and having guests send in their pictures is really helpful to ensure we identify as many animals in the group as possible. Our photo ID catalogues currently include sperm whales, bottlenose dolphins and pilot whales. If you've been out whalewatching or dolphin swimming with us recently feel free to send in your pictures to - if the photo clearly shows the dorsal fin and/or tail flukes and any unusual marks we may be able to identify the animal you saw!

It's often possible to tell the diffence between male and female pilot whales by their dorsal fins - this looks like an adult male and smaller female swimming side by side

Another great photo from Magnus - a group of common dolphins bow-riding at the front of our catamaran Cetus

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Today was another one of those great summer days at sea in the Azores. In the morning we had a very successful swimming with dolphins trip with a very large group of Atlantic spotted dolphins while our whale watching tour saw sperm whales, common dolphins and striped dolphins. In the afternoon we had more encounters with sperm whales and common dolphins. The day ended perfectly as we were just about to enter the marina we came across a very social group of common dolphins close to shore just outside of Ponta Delgada. Here are some photos of this great final encounter for the day:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Today was another great day for pilot whales, sperm whales, bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins. Again it was another one of those really calm days and although the sky wasn't always clear we had some beautiful views of São Miguel island covered in patches of low cloud. Here are a couple of photos from today:

Monday, July 4, 2011

A clip of how friendly one of our resident species, the short-beaked common dolphin, can be: This is a great example of how much these dolphins love to bow-ride and swim alongside boats. Sometimes we wonder who is enjoying the trip more, us or them..

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Our new catamaran - "CETUS"

On the 29th of June Futurismo hosted an evening to inaugurate our new catamaran "CETUS". This new edition to our fleet is used to run sunset trips as well as whale and dolphin watching tours alongside our smaller boats. Our new catamaran allows a greater degree of comfort while travelling over the sea, so that a greater diversity of people have the opportunity to come whale watching with us. As well as comfort, the spacious upper deck and front viewing space of this boat offers excellent whale and dolphin watching opportunities and ease of maneuverability to give the best possible view. The ceremony involved presentation followed by a priest coming on board to bless the boat and cocktails and canapés to celebrate the occassion. It was a really proud moment for everybody involved to be able to achieve this stage that is a huge step forward for Futurismo. Throughout June catamaran has already had many sucessful whale watching trips, and we are looking forward to the many more to come in the future.

June sighting statistics

June was another great month for whale watching in São Miguel. This month we saw 8 cetacean species:

  • Common dolphins (Delphinus delphis)

  • Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)

  • Striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba)

  • Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis)

  • Risso's dolphins (Grampus griseus)

  • Pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhyncus)

  • Beaked whale (Mesoplodon sp.)

  • Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus)
This month is also turning out to be really good so far. Yesterday we already saw 8 species throughout the day!
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