Monday, October 31, 2011

Last day of October

This year the summer seems to have has come and gone very fast, as we are already in the last day of October. But we are still getting plenty of really good whale watching and dolphin swimming tours, and today we were even lucky enough to have really excellent calm sea conditions. This morning we had a boat going out for swimming with dolphins and another for whale watching, and it did not take us long before we encountered a group of common dolphins just outside of Ponta Delgada. Throughout the rest of the morning we moved around several different groups our 3 resident dolphin species: common dolphins, Risso's dolphins and bottlenose dolphins. Our swimming clients had an especially great experience swimming with around 100 bottlenose dolphins:

Swimming with bottlenose dolphins

 One of our resident bottlenose dolphins

The Risso's dolphins were also really special to see today. First we encountered a lone individual that was chasing a small local fishing boat. We often see these dolphins hanging around fishing boats, as they love to take the squid that the fishermen are fishing out of the deep waters. Not long after we encountered a larger group of Risso's dolphins, perhaps the lone individual belongs this group. This is something we will be able to confirm later when we analyse photographs that we take of their dorsal fins for identification.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Over the last few weeks

Over the last few weeks we have been seeing many really great groups of dolphins, such as the Atlantic spotted dolphins in the photos above. Up until today we have been seeing common dolphins every day that we have been out this month. As well as large groups of these common and spotted dolphins we have been seeing our resident bottlenose dolphins (with our most recent encounter being this morning) and we have also had a few encounters with sperm whales, pilot whales and Risso's dolphins. Luckily for us here in the Azores we can see several species year round, so there is always something for us to see.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dolphins, birds and turtles

Another day of excellent sea and weather conditions here for us in São Miguel!

This morning we went out on what turned out to be another great whale watching tour. Although there were no whales in the area there was plenty of other wildlife around for us to see. Our tour started off with a group of common dolphins that were leaping out of the water as they were travelling very fast to the west:

Common dolphins

We travelled with the group for a while, also observing many birds along the way. As well as our usual bird sightings this morning we also saw some Manx shearwaters, a very beautiful species as you can see in the photo taken during the tour:

Unfortunately we also came across a dead bird that was entangled in a piece of fishing net. A sad reminder that we need to be more careful with things like fishing nets and other forms of litter that can be deadly for seabirds, dolphins, whales, turltes and many other species.

Bird tangled in a piece of fishing net

Later in the tour we went a bit further offshore where we came across a loggerhead turtle at the surface, followed by a very large and playful group of Atlantic spotted dolphins. Another very good tour for us here in the Azores.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Big groups of dolphins with calves

Today we had were lucky to have very calm seas and great sighting conditions for our whale watching and dolphin swimming tours. In the morning we started of with an encounter with common dolphins not too far out of Ponta Delgada. After watching these resident dolphins for a while we headed further east while our swimmers stayed to swim with the common dolphins. At the eastern end of São Miguel island we encountered a large group of bottlenose dolphins. The dolphins were very social and we got to see several of their calves in the group.

 Bottlenose dolphins: Young calf surfacing alongside its mother

Bottlenose dolphins

Our afternoon tours began again with the common dolphins close to shore. As our swimming clients were in the water they had the bonus of seeing a loggerhead turtle right where the dolphins were passing. Later in the afternoon we also saw a large group of several hundred Atlantic spotted dolphins. There was a lot of activity within the group, as several dolphins were putting on amazing acrobatic displays while great shearwaters and Cory's shearwaters were swooping around (to the delight of several bird enthusiasts we had onboard), probably indicating that the dolphins were feeding.

Adult Atlantic spotted dolphin

Juvenile Atlantic spotted dolphin

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Another successful day on the sea

Today was another successful day on the sea for us. This morning we had a dolphin swimming tour and two other boats going out for whale watching. Although the sea was a bit rough in places, getting us all a bit wet, we managed to see 4 different cetacean species: sperm whales, bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins. Recently we have not been seeing whales on as many of our tours as we did during the summer months, so it was a bonus to see the whales.

Our passengers this morning searching and waiting for a whale to come to the surface

One of the 3 sperm whales we saw together at the surface this morning

Monday, October 17, 2011

Lots of dolphins

The above photo shows some of our passengers watching a group of Atlantic spotted dolphins this morning. As well as this group of spotted dolphins we also encountered two groups of common dolphins on this tour. Our passengers included a few families, so we had several children onboard who really loved to see the large groups of dolphins swimming all around our boat.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sperm whales to the West!

This morning our passengers were very happy to encounter a group of sperm whales! During our encounter we sighted 5 individuals: 3 adults, 1 juvenile and 1 calf. To see these whales we had to travel quite far to the west, to an area where the water is around 2000 meters deep! But it was well worth the trip, and we even got to see 2 of the adults raise their tales to go on their deep feeding dives. The following photo is of the last whale we saw, a large adult that raised it's tail particularly high to bring a fantastic end to our tour:

Before we saw the sperm whales we also had a really good encounter with a large group of common dolphins close to the coastline. We estimated there must have been more than 500 dolphins in the group, including many small dolphins...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

3 species of dolphins

Today was a great day for seeing dolphins. On our whale watching tour this morning we saw 3 different dolphin species: Atlantic spotted dolphins, common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins. Although we haven't seen any whales for a while, it's great to see so many different dolphin species in one tour. Here are some photos from this morning's tour:

Atlantic spotted dolphin

Watching Atlantic spotted dolphins

Bottlenose dolphin

This afternoon we were able to observe the dolphins again. This time we also had a swimming tour which was really great, as our clients got to swim with a very inquisitive group of 12 or 13 bottlenose dolphins.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Common dolphins!!!

Over the past few days we have been seeing many groups of common dolphins. It's been a few days since we have een with whales, but the common dolphins have always been great to watch, making our tours worthwhile. We have been seeing very large groups of at least a few hundred common dolphins. Yesterday we saw a group together with a large number of seabirds, presumably feeding together at the surface. Today we saw the common dolphins travelling, which was great to watch as they all came leaping out of the waves together. There has never been a dull moment watching these common dolphins that we are able to view here year round. Here are some photos from the past two days:

Monday, October 3, 2011

Our latest sightings

Over the past few days we have had a mixture of sea conditions, but we have still managed to go out on several very good whale watching and dolphin swimming tours. Since Tuesday's big storm we managed to return to the sea this past weekend and again this morning. This morning the sea was a bit rough, but we were lucky to have a large group of common dolphins close to shore, just outside of Ponta Delgada. Our other recent sightings include a group of sperm whales (on the morning of the 29th), pilot whales (on the mornings of the 30th of September and the 1st of October) and several groups of Atlantic spotted dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins. Here are some photos from these recent tours:

Sperm whales seen in the morning on the 29th

Pilot whales (mother and calf) seen on the 30th

Bottlenose dolphins (photographed on the 30th) swimming very close to our boats
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