Thursday, January 31, 2013

January 2013 sighting statistics

Our cetacean sighting statistics for the first month of January are shown in the graph above. The main thing holding us back this month was the low number of tourists to go whale watching. Most of the time the weather has been nice, and there are animals out there, but being winter it is the low season for us. Nevertheless, we have had 6 tours this month and in these few days we have seen 6 cetacean species. These species are listed below, ordered by those most sighted and showing their sighting frequencies for the month:
The highlight of January was a tour in which we saw 4 different species including a fin whale and an Orca. The orca was seen chasing a ray and we got some really good underwater video. See the orca blog post by clicking here.

Tomorrow we will return to the sea, so check back later to see our latest sightings!

Map of our cetacean sightings

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Observing and swimming with common dolphins with Futurismo

This morning we had a tour on our catamaran "Cetus" as well as a dolphin swimming trip on one of our zodiac boats. It was a beautiful clear blue day with plenty of sunshine and dolphins. We encountered several groups of common dolphins, all of them not too far from Ponta Delgada. There were a lot of young dolphins around, some were evern newborns. As usual the dolphins were keen to bowride and the swimmers were able to see them well underwater. We also spotted different seabirds (skuas, terns, yellow-legged gulls and black-backed gulls). The following photos were taken today by our crew:

Common dolphin jumping next to our boat to check us out

Aboard our catamaran "Cetus"

Common dolphins approaching our catamaran for some bowriding

Watching common dolphins bowriding

Local fishermen showing an Axillary seabream they have caught

Our swimming with dolphins tour this morning

Swimming with dolphins boat

Watching common dolphins from the swimming boat

Swimmer in the water with common dolphins

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Feels like summer

Today started with a gorgeous bright sunrise over the marina, for those that were up early enough before our catamaran departed for whale watching. Following this sunrise the whole day has been sunny and warm in São Miguel, Azores. The pleasant conditions brightened up our trip and left us looking forward to the spring which is just around the corner. During our tour we encountered four different groups of common dolphins. The groups were small and spread out, but they took interest in our catamaran and accompanied us as we were cruising along. No whales were spotted today so we took the time to travel back along the coastline to enjoy the views of the south coast of São Miguel. Along the way we stopped to see Vila Franca Islet (a sunken in volcanic crater in the ocean that has a beautiful lagoon inside) to observe the birds and to see the volcanic rock formations. Our tour ended with a nice hot cup of green tea which we offer our clients on return to Ponta Delgada.

Sunrise over our catamaran Cetus

Clients arriving to our shop

A young dolphin watcher!

Common dolphins

The bow full of dolphin watchers

Our German guide for today

One of our biologists, Clara, on top deck

Our skipper heading towards Vila Franca Islet

Approaching Vila Franca Islet

Yellow-legged gull at Vila Franca Islet

Vila Franca Islet rock formations

Vila Franca Islet

Caloura (showing our vigia (onshore lookout) on top of the cliff, to the left of the row of trees)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Curious common dolphins surround our boat

Today was a nice calm winters day in São Miguel and the ocean around the island was full of dolphins. There were groups of common dolphins spread out across all the areas that we were travelling through, and many of them were very curious towards us. There was one group in particular that were calmly swimming right alongside our boat, looking up at us and making a lot of noise that could be heard from the boat. They were almost motionless in the calm water as they were just floating and looking up at us. They were really beautiful to watch, as you can see in our and video below (the video can also be viewed on our Youtube account). This morning we also encountered a small group of about 6 bottlenose dolphins. The dolphins were spending a lot of time diving, but every time they came up we got to see them well and we were able to take many good ID photos so that we can identify the individuals later (something we do as part of our research). We also had a brief encounter with a loggerhead turtle and we spotted several Portuguese man-o-war (one with a wreck fish in its tentacles), indicating that spring is on the way!

Listen carefully for their echolocation noises in this video
The video can also be viewed directly on youtube


Common dolphins underwater
Common dolphin looking up at us

Common dolphins

Common dolphins, dark coloration. Compare to the photo above

Watching common dolphins around our bow

Portuguese man-o-war

Bottlenose dolphins

 Bottlenose dolphin diving

Bottlenose ID photo - even the smallest nicks can be used to identify the dolphin

 Common dolphin leaping alongside us on our way home
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