Friday, June 29, 2012

Another beautiful day with sperm whales, a sei whale and hundreds of dolphins

What an amazing day again in São Miguel! Today we had sunshine the whole day and we felt very lucky to be able to go out on our catamaran in the morning and afternoon, as well as whale watching from a zodiac in the morning and swimming with dolphins in the afternoon. Our sightings were also incredible, in both the morning and afternoon. In the morning we started off with a sei whale which may be the last of the baleen whales to pass here for the season. After the sei we moved on to a group of sperm whales, which included many very social individuals that were very curious particularly towards our zodiac boat. During the morning we also had a few sightings of common dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins, although the whales were the highlight of the morning.

In the afternoon we returned to the same group of sperm whales which happend to be in the same area as a large group of at least a few hundred Atlantic spotted dolphins. Throughout the first part of the tour we moved around between sperm whales on the surface and the dolphins spread throughout the area. We had one particularly memorable encounter with a sperm whale that was bombarded by a small group of curious dolphins that wanted to swim around the whale. The whale didn't seem to like it one bit and after some rolling around on the surface and sticking its head out of the water it quickly raised it's tail to escape to the deeper waters. On this tour we also saw a group of common dolphins closer to shore and then we ended the trip with just one more sperm whale that showed a beautiful high tail to give us a nice ending.
Following are a few of our photos from today:

Photos from the morning:

Watching a sei whale from our catamaran

Watching a sperm whale from our catamaran

Our zodiac boat with a very curious sperm whale

Photos from the afternoon:

Sperm whale diving

Sperm whale sticking its head up after being approached by some curious dolphins

Watching dolphins in the foreground with a sperm whale in the background

Watching common dolphins from our catamaran

Dolphins spread out around our boat

Our last sperm whale encounter for the day

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Another beautiful summers day in São Miguel

It is another beautiful summers day in São Miguel and we have had great success on the sea. Today we had whale watching in the morning and afternoon, swimming with dolphins in the morning as well as our first full-day tour for the year (our full day tour consists of whale watching in the morning followed by lunch at a local restaurant in Vila Franca and and afternoon relaxing and snorkeling in the lagoon of Vila Franca Islet).

In the morning our swimming tour was with a large group of common dolphins and our passengers on this trip were extremely lucky to see the dolphins feeding on a large school of mackerel just beneath the surface. Those on the whale watching boats encountered a group of sperm whales to the east, followed by a large group of Atlantic spotted dolphins.

In the afternoon we saw sperm whales including a very curious individual that swam around our boat twice and kept spyhopping (raising its head out of the water) to see us better. On this tour we also saw a group of pilot whales, which turned out to be the same group of individuals that we saw last week. Following are a few of our favourite photos from the day:

Photos from the morning:

Juvenile sperm whale taking its last breath before a dive

Juvenile sperm whale diving

Adult sperm whale

Adult sperm whale diving

Atlantic spotted dolphins alongside our fibreglass boat

Two of our boats with the Atlantic spotted dolphins

The dolphins racing with our boat

Photos from the afternoon:

Large sperm whale diving

Curious sperm whale spyhopping

Curious sperm whale coming closer

Sperm whale

Pilot whale

Pilot whales

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dolphins all around!

Summer is definitely here, now that we are experiencing warmer temperatures, clear blue skies and very large groups of dolphins all around! Although we didn't see any whales today it turned out to be an amazing day to see several dolphin species. In the morning we sighted a large group of several hundred common dolphins spread out over a large area. From our observation boats we watched the dolphins leaping alongside our boats and surfing the waves, while our swimming clients saw the dolphins from a completely different viewpoint beneath the surface. During this tour we also encountered a young loggerhead turtle.

In the afternoon again we encountered several hundred common dolphins again, followed by striped dolphins in the same area. The striped dolphins have a characteristic way of travelling very rapidly using long synchronised leaps low over the surface of the water. It was interesting to watch that when the common dolphins saw this they began to copy the striped dolphins by changing their swimming behaviour to match them. Our afternoon tour ended with a nice encounter with a social group of at least 60 bottlenose dolphins close to the coastline. Our swimmers in the afternoon had the chance of swimming with both common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins.

Photos from the morning:

Common dolphin

One of our skippers, Mário, inspecting a loggerhead turtle

Loggerhead turtle

Photos from the afternoon:

Common dolphins

Striped dolphin (very fast and difficult to photograph)

Bottlenose dolphin - upside down tailslapping

Bottlenose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins (a very social group)

Bottlenose dolphin jump

Swimming with the bottlenose dolphins...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sperm whales and dolphins all around

This morning we had three boats on the water for swimming with dolphins and whale watching. After the clouds parted it turned out to be a beautiful morning, and we had plenty of animals around to see. One of our boats started with an encounter with a small group of Atlantic spotted dolphins. After this we came across a much larger and very curious group of common dolphins that were eager to swim around our boats and swimmers in the water. The dolphin swimming boat stayed with the common dolphins while the rest of us continued further east to see a group of sperm whales. The sperm whales were spread over a large area and were coming to the surface at different times, but we estimate there must have been at least 7-8 sperm whales near our boats. Today we did not get to see any of their tails as they were just relaxing at the surface, but this meant we were able to spend more time with them at the surface. We ended our sperm whale encounter with adult and juvenile pair together at the surface. Our morning ended with a brief encounter with a bottlenose dolphin.

Common dolphins along side our catamaran "Cetus"

Common dolphin

Our zodia cwatching a sperm whale at the surface

Sperm whale pair - adult female with a juvenile

Bottlenose dolphin

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sei whale and playful dolphins this morning

Just when we were almost sure that the baleen whale season had ended for us a sei whale gave us a surprise visit on our tour this morning. The whale was travelling alone, always staying near the surface and coming up regularly to breathe just once each time. We got to see the whale really well from aboard our catamaran as well as one of our zodiac boats. We also had a really nice encounter with a group of common dolphins, which included many playful juveniles as well as at least one tiny newborn calf.

Common dolphins

Watching the dolphins from the bow of our catamaran

Common dolphins (notice their is a small calf in the middle and the adult on the left is missing the yellow patch that these dolphins normally have on their sides)

Sei whale coming to surface

Sei whale in front of our catamaran

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Great swimming day with common dolphins

This afternoon we had a great group of common dolphins by our boat. Our swimmers saw somewhere between 30-40 dolphins when they entered the water. And our whalewatching boat did have a nice encounter with bottlenose dolphins.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pilot whales, sperm whales, Mr Liable, swimming with common dolphins and more!

Today was a great day for us, with beautiful blue skies and great sightings on our whale watching and dolphin swimming tours. The swimmers had a fantastic and unforgetable experience with a large and very social group of common dolphins. Those on the whale watching boats saw the dolphins and then continued further east where we sighted a group of sperm whales as well as pilot whales. In the morning we had a Japanese film crew aboard our catamaran and they managed to get some really great footage throughout the tour.

Photos taken in the morning (from our catamaran):

First sperm whale sighted off our catamaran

Beautiful tail from the sperm whale

One of the pilot whale sighted (the same group of individuals that was sighted four days ago)

Second sperm whale sighted off the catamaran

Another very nice big tail

Tourists and film crew on the bow of our catamaran

Photos from the afternoon:
The following photos from "Song of Whales", our medium sized fibreglass boat. During this tour we sighted two different sperm whales and a social group of common dolphins that included many mating individuals. Following are some of our photos:

First sperm whale sighted - Mr Liable, a  large male we have been seeing here for many years

Second sperm whale sighted - a large female with ID#94 in our fluke catalogue

Watching some playful common dolphins

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