Friday, September 30, 2011

Celebração do Dia Mundial do Mar com a Futurismo!!

Dia 29 de Setembro: Dia Mundial do Mar
Este dia foi celebrado através de uma acção de Responsabilidade Social dinamizada pela APSM em parceria com a Futurismo. A Associação de Portos dos Açores efectuou o convite para a participação neste evento à turma do 4º ano da EBIJ Santa Clara que veio acompanhada pelo professor António Barreto.

Para dar início a esta experiência, foi feito um briefing explicativo em como a caça da baleia foi a actividade primária na região relativa ao contacto com mamíferos marinhos e como se desenrolava essa mesma actividade e que técnicas foram reaproveitas para a observação de cetáceos.

Seguidamente foram descritas as principais espécies observadas na região ao longo do ano para que as crianças entrassem em contacto mais próximo com as baleias e golfinhos que habitam as nossas águas. Ao longo da apresentação foram esclarecidas todas as dúvidas que foram surgindo, garantindo a compreensão por parte de todos os meninos de todos os assuntos abordados.

Antes de embarcarmos garantimos que todos os meninos e monitores estivessem preparados para a chuva eminente e tivessem todo o equipamento obrigatório a bordo e lá fomos!!

Uma passagem pelo ilhéu de Vilafranca do campo constituiu uma oportunidade ideal para abordar estas crianças sobre a importância da conservação do meio ambiente e das espécies habitantes da nossa região, assuntos sobre os quais as crianças estão actualmente mais cientes. De facto, são as crianças as que se mostram mais alertas em relação a medidas a executar no dia-a-dia, tentando incutir essas medidas nas próprias famílias ( reciclagem, poupança de água e electricidade, etc.).

Um dia diferente e apelativo para estas crianças que se mostraram extremamente atentas a tudo o que se falou, curiosas em saber como eram encontrados os animais, a que distâncias é que podem ser observados, a que velocidades nadam e até que profundidade mergulham, etc..

A repetir definitivamente numa próxima oportunidade!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Spectacular weather in São Miguel today: gale force winds with gusts up to 45 knots and swells up to 6m in height.. obviously not whalewatching weather but quite impressive all the same! We've been hiding in the office, hoping the water doesn't rise any higher. Time to catch up on the paperwork and photo ID catalogues for the cetaceans we photograph each day!

Tempo espectacular em São Miguel hoje: ventos fortes até 45 nós e ondas até 6m de altura.. claramente não é o tempo ideal para whalewatching mas muito impressionante! Temos estado escondidos no escritório, esperando que a água não suba mais. Tempo para pôr em dia a papelada e actualizar a foto ID dos cetáceos a que tirámos fotos cada dia!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

An unexpected fin whale

A fin whale this afternoon!! Quite an unusual sighting for this time of year, although it may be one of the first of our sightings as the baleen whales migrate back south from their northerly summer feeding grounds. The most common time to see them here is during the springtime. This individual was a juvenile, and spent the afternoon feeding amid Atlantic spotted dolphins, great shearwaters, Cory's shearwaters, and yellow legged gulls. An unexpected treat for passengers aboard our fibreglass boat "Song of Whales"!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

We had another great day on the sea today. Throughout the day we saw many sperm whales, and the sea conditions were excellent. We also had encounters with common dolphins, spotted dolphins and bottlenose dolphins. Here is a photo of one of the sperm whales we saw this afternoon:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Summer is still here

The last two days we have been really lucky with the weather and our sightings. The sky has been clear and we have had calm waters, making it much easier for our whale watching and dolphin swimming tours. During these last two days we have been seeing different groups of sperm whales as they pass our island. Both this morning and yesterday morning the sperm whales were feeding, so we got to see several of the whales raising their tails to go on their deep feeding dives. Yesterday socialising behaviour was also seen: in the afternoon least four whales were seen together at the surface. We currently have our afternoon whale watching tour on the sea, who knows what they may be lucky enough to see.

Sperm whales: Mother and calf

Sperm whale

Our dolphin sightings have also been great. This morning we spent some time with a large group of common dolphins while yesterday we saw four different dolphin species (bottlense dolphins, common dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins and Risso's dolphins). These photos show some of our more special dolphin moments from yesterday:

Watching a group of common dolphinsOne of our friendly resident bottlenose dolphinsRisso's dolphin leaping out of the water

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Today was another one of those days that we could only go to the sea in the morning, as the wind picked up too much for our afternoon tours. Still we managed to get a good tour in. Our whale watchers and dolphin swimmers got to enjoy some time with a large friendly group of common dolphins. This is just one of the dolphins that was leaping alongside our boats:

This is just one of the many species that we can see here in the Azores. Lately we have also been seeing many Atlantic spotted dolphins and bottlenose dolphins, as well as pilot whales and sperm whales. One of our recent passangers, Ida Eriksson, has recently been on 6 tours with us, and was lucky enough to have some great encounters with many of these species. Click here to see Ida's blog that shows some photos and videos of these encounters. Thank you Ida.

Friday, September 16, 2011

One more note for today : a recommendation to check out the blog of Doris Thomas who visited us recently in Pico and has sent us the link to some of her incredible photos. Click here to see some great above and underwater action from dolphins and sperm whales, and read about her experiences whalewatching and dolphin swimming with Futurismo.

An interesting morning with big groups of bottlenose dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins and Risso's dolphins to observe! The Risso's dolphins were especially interesting as they were repeatedly jumping and tailslapping.. perhaps some examples of the aggressive behaviour between individuals which results in the scratches and scarring on adult Rissos. These scars are thought to be caused by the teeth of fellow dolphins (Rissos have up to 14 teeth on the lower jaw), but also by their main prey, squid. They are born a dark grey but gradually become paler with age, with this scarring making the older individuals appear almost entirely white, especially on the head. This extensive pattern of scars and scratches means individuals can be identified using photo ID techniques, mostly focussing on the dorsal fins. So far they have not been as well studied as some other species of dolphin, due to their their timid nature and preference for deep oceanic waters. Click here for more information on the species and some great photos on the website of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Finally we have beautful calm seas again! The wind of the last few days has finally tailed off and we went out this morning to sunny calm conditions with great visibility. Big groups of bottlenose, common and Atlantic spotted dolphins awaited us with plenty of jumps and acrobatics - and the water was clear enough to see the dolphins curiously swimming under the boats and bow-riding beneath the waves. This afternoon pilot whales also joined in the fun.

We've also been signing the Avaaz petition to help bring an end to bottom-trawling fisheries. This is the most destructive method of fishing worldwide; nets are dragged across thousands of miles of seabed, destroying everything in their path. Not only are the target species caught in the giant nets, but also everything else to be found in the nets' path which means an enormous amount of unnecessary bycatch which is killed but useless to the fishing industry. This is one of most important reasons to ensure that, if you eat fish, you know how it has been caught and avoid fish that has been caught using these unbelievably unsustainable methods. Please join us in signing this petition to the UN to voice our opinions - bottom-trawling is something that must stop if we want to continue seeing marine wildlife in our oceans!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

One of our recent guests, Patrick Vertongen, has kindly sent us the link to some of his fantastic photos from his trips with us in the Azores... click here to have a look at some of his inspiring photography from here and around the world. Something for the rest of us to aim for maybe!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

BBC blue planet feeding frenzy

A great dolphin swimming trip this morning! Our clients swam amongst a feeding frenzy of dolphins, birds and tuna. The Cory's shearwaters and great shearwaters are proficient divers and are great at diving down deep to feed on fish like mackerel and sardines which the dolphins corral into tight bait balls. This feeding association is well established between the dolphins and cagarros (as the Cory's shearwaters are known here in the Azores), and sometimes we are lucky enough to find ourselves right in the middle of it with a mask and snorkel! The incredible diving capacity of these shearwaters was captured by the BBC during the filming of Blue Planet and can look something like this.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A breaching sperm whale calf was the highlight of our trips this morning! The young whale jumped out of the water 7 or 8 times in a row, entertaining all our passengers with its playfulness. A few of us were lucky enough to get the moment on film..

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Common dolphins and spotted dolphins this morning! Unfortunately we've had to cancel our afternoon trips due to the sea conditions, but luckily for the passengers who chose to book our full day trip including the afternoon at the Islet of Vila France the sun is still shining there.. The calm protected waters of the old volcanic crater means they're enjoying swimming and snorkelling while the waves increase outside of the islet!

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