Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The end of November

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 :
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

Fantastic day!

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

Watching Atlantic spotted dolphins

One of the many sperm whales we saw this morning

Sunday, November 20, 2011

More sperm whales and spotted dolphins

We have just returned from another great tour on the ocean and we have seen the same group of sperm whales that we also saw yesterday and 4 days ago. Today we saw 5 individuals from the group, beginning with an encounter with 3 adults which surfaced together and went down on their deep dive together. We also saw Atlantic spotted dolphins so it turned out to be another really good tour for us.

Juvenile sperm whale going on a deep dive

3 sperm whales surfacing together

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Lots of cetaceans to watch

Today we were back on the sea again and just like 3 days ago there was plenty to see. The same group of sperm whales that we saw last time were still in the area, so both our morning and afternoon passengers got to see them. There were also pilot whales around, perhaps the same group that was seen in the area three days ago. In the morning we saw a group of about 15 of these pilot whales before they left the area in the afternoon. Like usual there were also plenty of dolphins around so that throughout the day we saw several of groups of common dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins. The last few days there have been a huge number of seabirds around, a very good indication that there is a lot of food around for the whales and dolphins. The following photos are from our tour this afternoon:

Watching a sperm whale passing close to one of our boats

Juvenile sperm whale diving

Atlantic spotted dolphin close to Vila Franca Islet

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An amazing day!

What an amazing day!
Today was a beautiful calm day in São Miguel and we had great whale watching trips in both the morning and afternoon. The following photos from these tours show it all.

Curious juvenile sperm whale spyhopping (raising its head out of the water)

Large adult sperm whale spyhopping

Two sperm whales surrounded by a large group of birds

Bottlenose dolphin (one of our residents known as "Big A")

Watching some of our resident common dolphins

One of the Risso's dolphins seen close to the coast this morning

In the morning we started off with a sighting of two of our resident bottlenose dolphins. It turns out they were the same two dolphins that we saw on our last tour two days ago (see our previous blog post). Throughout the rest of the morning tour we saw several groups of common dolphins and we also had a great sighting of two Risso's dolphins.

In the afternoon we were pleasantly surprised when our vigia (on shore lookout man) informed us that a group of sperm whales had moved into the area. We sighted several of the individuals in this group, starting with a very curious juvenile that came right up to one of our boats and sphyhopped (stuck it's head vertically out of the water as if looking at us). Two larger adults were also seen spyhopping and rolling around at the surface with a large group of birds flying around them (perhaps the birds were attracted by squid or fish that the whales had been feeding on). One of the sperm whales could easily be identified by the white patch it has on top of its back, in front of its dorsal fin, as shown in the following photo:

This is a whale that we refer to as "Orca" because the white patch is similar to the saddle patch that orcas have.

Our lookout also reported that there were pilot whales further to the east of the island in the afternoon. Although they were too far for us to go to them it was really great to know that there was so much wildlife in the area today.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Well known dolphins

This month has been difficult so far as we have not had the best weather and sea conditions and have therefore been cancelling many tours. Luckily this morning conditions were looking allright so we went out while we had the opportunity. The sea was actually pretty good and the sky was clear. Our tour started off with a sighting of two of our resident bottlenose dolphins. Although there were only two they were very friendly and curious about our boats as they were swimming around and under us. We could instantly recognise one of the dolphins (known as "Big A" in our catalogue of individuals) from the unique way it always swims by lifting its upper body high out of the water (shown in the following photo that was taken on this morning's tour)

One of our resident bottlenose dolphins known as "Big A"

Next we had an encounter with a group of Atlantic spotted dolphins. There were many more dolphins in this group, including a few juveniles and even newborn calves. Unlike the bottlenose dolphins, spotted dolphins do not stay in the Azores the whole year. Its good to see they are still here, as we can expect them to head further south in the next month or so.

Atlantic spotted dolphins

The weather forecast is looking better for the coming week, so we are anticipating more great tours in the coming days.
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