Saturday, December 31, 2011

Record number of tours and sightings for December this year

December this year has been really amazing for whale watching and dolphin swimming with Futurismo! In fact this past month we have achieved a record number of days on the sea as well as whale and dolphin sightings compared to the past five years. We have been out 17 days this month and had several encounters with 7 different cetacean species (humpback whales, sperm whales, pilot whales, Risso´s dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins). Our humpback whale sightings were a first for this time of the year, and it wasn't just one but two different individuals that we saw! Another special December sighting for us was a leatherback turtle last week. In the following graph you can see the sighting frequencies of the different cetacean species we have seen this December:

With that number of different species and high sighting frequencies it's almost as if it is summer here! Hopefully for us the good sea and weather conditions will persist for what is left of winter.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Sperm whales, common and spotted dolphins

Today was a busy day for us with several boats going out on two rounds of tours. In the morning our whale watching and swimming clients encountered several groups of common dolphins. Those that came whale watching with us in the afternoon were more lucky as we encountered not only the common dolphins, but also Atlantic spotted dolphins and sperm whales! Of the four whales we encountered up close we managed to get the following good tail shot of an individual that we also encountered on the 19th of December.

If we are lucky this same group of sperm whales may still be in the area for our morning tour tomorrow.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A huge group of Atlantic spotted dolphins

Another fantastic day on the sea! Today we had beautiful weather and there were 3 dolphin species around for us to see: common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins. The spotted dolphins were particularly great as it was a group of at least 400 dolphins, including many very small newborn calves. It's really nice for us to still be seeing such a large group of these dolphins so late in the season, as last year we already stopped seeing them on December 22nd as they head furhter south for the winter.

Have a look at the following Atlantic spotted dolphin photos from today's tour:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Risso's and common dolphins, and a leatherback turtle

This morning started off a little foggy and drizzly, but the sky soon cleared up to bring out patches of blue sky. Our encounters started off with a rare sighting of a very large leatherback turtle. We did not manage to take photos, but it was good in the same just to get a glimpse of the largest marine turtle species. This morning we also saw several groups of common dolphins and a few Risso's dolphins.

Common dolphin

 Risso's dolphin

For our many bird enthusiasts that we had on board with us this morning we also had the bonus of seeing at least 10 different bird species. It's always great to show our passengers the marine life and beautiful Azorean coastline along the way.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sperm whales and 3 dolphins species for Christmas

This morning we had our final tour before Christmas day and it was a good one! We had a group of sperm whales close to shore, including several females with their young. There were also plenty of common dolphins as well as a few bottlenose dolphins and Risso's dolphins.

A great Christmas treat for those that came whale watching with us today!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

2 days until Christmas

Only two days until Christmas day and we are still operating, taking customers out to see the cetaceans of the Azores. This morning the visibility wasn't the best, but we still managed to find several groups of common dolphins, including those in the above photographs taken during this tour. Tomorrow morning we also have a whale watching tour booked, so we are hoping for some more great sightings for our clients.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Another humpback whale! The second this December

This morning we were very lucky as we got to see a humpback whale. Such a sighting is rather unusual for this time of the year and it was our second this month! Our identification photos that we took of this whale and the humpback whale we saw on December 5th (see our previous blog post) show that they are different individuals. It's really amazing to see not just one, but two humpback whales this month!

The whale we saw today was a bit difficult to watch as it spent a lot of time diving, but we did manage to get a few nice looks and the following photos:

Monday, December 19, 2011

4 species again

Again this morning we sighted 4 cetacean species!
This time it was sperm whales, Risso's dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins and common dolphins. We were really lucky with our sightings and sea conditions which were perfect. There were many sperm whales around, these are just a few of them:

 Santa Maria Island in the background

Of the many whales we saw we managed to see 5 of them bringing up their tails, and from photos of these we could recognise some individuals that we had seen before. 4 of the whales have been sighted here before, including back in July and August of this year, and even as far back as 2006. It's great to see these whales returning to this area! Our dolphin encounters also turned out great. The following two photos are of a Risso's dolphin mother and calf pair that we came across towards the end of our tour, before we finished off with a great encounter of common dolphins just outside our marina.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

4 cetacean species sighted this morning

This year December is turning out to be really great for us here in São Miguel. This morning we had dolphin swimming and whale watching and it was just like summer! We had blue skies, a nice comfortable temperature, calm sea and 4 cetacean species to see: sperm whales, pilot whales, bottlenose dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins. To top it off we also spotted a loggerhead turtle on our way back.

Adult sperm whale

Pilot whales

Bottlenose dolphins

 Watching bottlenose dolphins

We have more excellent sea conditions forecasted for the upcoming week or more, so this is a great time to come out with us as we continue operating throughout the festive season. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Just like summer

It seems that summer is still here in the Azores. The weather has been great recently, much better than this time last year. We have already had many very good whale watching trips this month, and this morning was no exception. The sea was perfectly calm and there were groups of dolphins everywhere! We came across many groups of common dolphins feeding, with Cory's shearwaters and other seabirds all around them.

Common dolphins swimming in front of our boat

We also had a really nice encounter with a group of about 15 Risso's dolphins. We had the bonus of seeing at least one small calf and several juveniles in this group. In the following photo you can see really well how scratched and scarred this dolphin species becomes over its lifetime.

Risso's dolphins (2 adults with the head of a smaller calf just to the right)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Whales, dolphins and rainbows

Another great day for whale watching in São Miguel today. This year December is turning out to be a really good month for us! Today we saw common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and sperm whales. The group of sperm whales, which included at least 5 adults and a calf were seen together with a group of bottlenose dolphins swimming around them. One of the adult sperm whales became very curious and left the other whales and dolphins to come and investigate our boat.

Curious sperm whale swimming straight for our boat

Curious sperm swimming alongside our boat!

Large head of one of the sperm whales in the group

Sperm whales: adult and calf

We have also been really fortunate with the weather so far this month as it's not often so good this time of the year. Today we had  not only good sea conditions, but also beautiful skies with different formations of clouds passing by, creating many beautiful rainbows along the coastline.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Large male sperm whale in São Miguel

This morning we set out for what turned out to be another great whale watching trip. This time we encountered one of at least two sperm whales that were making dives far off the coastline, in an area where the water is over 900 meters deep. Just by looking at the size of the whale that we encountered we could instantly see it was a male. This whale was huge! We more commonly encouter the smaller females, so it was really great to see such a big individual. The whale was one that we did not recognise from the sperm whale catalogue we have, so now we are going to check with other researchers to see if this whale has been photographed elsewhere.

Large male sperm whale we encountered this morning

We also saw several small groups of common dolphins close to the coastline. The dolphins were feeding so we got to see many seabirds flying overhead and diving down to take some of the fish that the dolphins had worked up to the surface. Although we are well into winter now we could still see many Cory's shearwater that nest here over summer, and we even spotted one smaller Manx shearwater.

A small feeding group of common dolphins

Some of the Cory's shearwaters that were feeding with the common dolphins

Monday, December 5, 2011


This morning we took out a nice group of Spanish clients and they were in for a very special and lucky treat that even surprised the crew. Just outside of our departure point in Ponta delgada we encountered a humpback whale. We got to see this magnificent whale breaching (jumping out of the water) a few times before it started slapping its long pectoral fins on the waters surface. Check out the following photos we managed to take of this whale:

  The above 3 photos show how the humpback whale was slapping its long pectoral fins on the surface of the water

 After the fin slapping the whale started going on deep dives, which is when we saw it bringing up its tail like this

The humpback whale was seen travelling close to shore, just off the coast of Ponta delgada 

It was a real surprise for us to see this species of whale, as they are not commonly seen here this time of the year. Baleen whales, such as this humpback whale normally migrate past the Azores during the spring months, which is when they are heading to the Arctic waters to feed during the summer months. This whale could be on its way back down south for the winter and may be stopping here for a quick snack as we saw the whale going on several deep dives later during our encounter. Whatever the reason for it being here we were very glad that it passed São Miguel Island!

Of course our passengers were delighted to see dolphins during their tour as well. They got to see a couple of groups of Atlantic spotted dolphins followed by some common dolphins. Our onshore watchman (known locally as the vigia) reported that there were also a couple of bottlenose dolphins and Risso's dolphins around earlier in the morning, so today there was definitely not a shortage of species to be seen here!!!

One of the common dolphins jumping close to our boat
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