Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January sighting statistics

Another month has passed so we have our latest sighting statistics. This January we have seen 8 cetacean species which is really good for this time of the year. In comparison in January last year we saw 3 species, and the year before only 1. This time of the year is normally difficult for us, as sea conditions are often not good and there are not many customers to go out. Although we have not been out much recently, again this year has been really good compared to previous years. It's been a really great winter for us and we are looking forward to an even better summer. In the following graph you can see the sighting frequency of the 8 species we sighted this month. As you can see we sighted common dolphins on 100% of the days that we went out!

 Sighting frequencies:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pilot whales, striped dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins and common dolphins sighted in São Miguel

This morning our passengers were very lucky, as we had another great whale watching tour. We got to see 4 cetacean species: pilot whales, striped dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins and common dolphins. This winter we have had some exceptional sightings, in fact the spotted and striped dolphins are more summer species in this area so it was great to see them this time of the year (it was the first time in more than 3 months that we observed striped dolphins here). The following photo is of a large male pilot whale that passed close to our boat:

Friday, January 20, 2012

20 sperm whales sighted together at the surface!!

Today we encountered a very large group of sperm whales off the São Miguel coastline. At one stage our skipper counted about 20 sperm whales on the surface together! The sperm whale group was actually larger than the groups of common dolphins we also saw on our tour. The sperm whales were socialsing at the surface, so we got to see one breach (a whale jumping out of the water), grouping up behaviour, spyhopping (whales raising their heads out of the water) and a few very curious individuals passing close to our boat. The following photos only show a few of the sperm whales that we saw, but more can be seen in our video on our facebook page.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A summer day watching and swimming with dolphins

Today was just like summer. We have been extremely lucky with the weather conditions this winter. Most times it hasn't been like winter at all. This may be why the Atlantic spotted dolphins are still here, when they would normally leave for the winter around November or December. This morning we got to see (and swim with) at least 100 of these spotted dolphins, as well as several smaller groups of common dolphins. These photos taken from aboard our swimming boat show what a beautiful "summer" day we had here in the middle of winter.

Watching common dolphins

Atlantic spotted dolphins

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Common dolphins on video

During the last few days we had a fairly long abscence from the sea due to low passenger numbers and bad weather conditions at times. But this morning we finally got out again on our catamaran and had encounters with several groups of our resident common dolphins. The following short video clips are just a taste of what we got to see this morning:

Monday, January 9, 2012

Fin whales, sperm whales, pilot whales and common dolphins sighted on yesterday's tour!!

Yesterday morning we had a fantastic tour with sightings of fin whales (a mother and calf), sperm whales, pilot whales and common dolpins. So many different species are not common for this time of the year, especially the sighting of the fin whales which normally pass here during the spring months, along with the other baleen whale species. The fin whale was actually our second baleen whale sighting for this month, as 3 days ago we also saw a sei whale. Unfortunately we didn't have a camera aboard yesterday, so if any of our passengers managed to get photos from the sightings we would be grateful if you could share them with us. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Whale and dolphin watching aboard our catamaran

This morning we went whale watching on our catamaran "Cetus" for the first time since our previous summer season. Cetus is great for observation because it is spacious, perfect for watching dolphins bowriding in front and a good option for those passengers that are not comfortable going on our smaller boats in which we often have a very wet and bumpy ride. 

We ended up having a very good tour, with sightings of a large feeding group of Atlantic spotted dolphins, a sperm whale and common dolphins on our way back to shore. We got to see the sperm whale raise its tail to go on a dive, and from its tail we could recognise the whale from our catalogue of individuals. This whale was named "Piet" by one of our previous passengers that kindly sent us an identification photo from their sighting. Piet was first photographed by us here in 2008 and before today was last seen in September 2010. It's great to see whales such as Piet returning to this area.

Sperm whale "Piet" sighted this morning

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sei whale sighted!!!

This morning we had an encounter with a large whale. It wasn't our usual sperm whale encounter, instead it was with a Sei whale. The Sei whale is the third largest species, after the blue whale and fin whale. It is one of the baleen whales, a filter feeding whale that carries out long anual migrations between their summer feeding ground in polar waters and their winter breeding ground in warmer waters. Baleen whales are commonly seen passing the Azores between late March and June, so it was a nice suprise for us to see this Sei whale here this time of the year. The whale was diving a lot and only coming up for one breath between dives, so the above photo was the only decent one we got as the surfacings were rather unpredictable.  But the important part is that our passengers got to see the whale, as well as a nice group of common dolphins.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Our first encounter with whales for 2012!

This morning we had our first whale encounter for 2012! We saw several sperm whales that belong to a group that we also saw here twice last month. When a sperm whale dives we take photos which are used to identify the individual from the natural marks on its tail. The tail in the above photo is of a whale that we also encountered on December 19th and 30th (see another photo of this individual in our previous blog post). From today's encounters we also identified another sperm whale seen here on December 30th. The sperm whales we see here in the Azores live in groups or units, so it becomes interesting when we can learn more about the individuals that make up these different groups.

As for dolphins, today we saw a few common dolphins in the sperm whale area, but today really ended up being more of a day for the whales. Yesterday we saw more dolphins, as we encountered a couple of small groups of common dolphins followed by Risso's dolphins. Every one of our tours are very different so you never really know what you will see when you come on a tour with us. The best part for you is that we have a money back guarantee if no cetacean species are encountered during your tour.
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