Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Seabirds in São Miguel

Today it was a beautiful sunny day in São Miguel and the wind had dropped down enough for us to go out to sea. We went out with three of our boats in the morning (our catamaran "Cetus" and two of our smaller boats, one of them to swim with dolphins). We tried our best for find whales and dolphins but unfortunately luck was not on our side this time. We did not encounter any whales nor dolphins, however this means that all of our clients can now book another tour with us free of charge!
Even on the days that there are no cetaceans to see we still make the most of observing the beauty around us. Many people enjoy the opportunity simply to see the island from the ocean. On our swimming boat today we got to see a loggerhead turtle, something that we see here on a regular basis. People interested in bird watching also had a lot to see today. Some of the bird species sighted today include Cory's shearwaters, skuas, yellow-legged gulls and ruddy turnstones. The Cory's shearwaters were particularly numerous along the coast today. These are the first of the many birds that are coming to the Azores to nest during the summer months. Around 60-75% of the entire population of this species comes to the Azores every year, and individuals often return to the same nest in which they were born. Below are some photos that our biologists were able to capture today:

Cory's shearwater photos:

Aboard our catamaran "Cetus":

 Passing Vila Franca Islet:


Yellow-legged gull

Ruddy turnstones back in the marina:

2 males on the left and a female on the right

Male (left) and female (right)

Ruddy turnstone in flight

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Back on the sea

This morning we were lucky to have some clear sky after getting a lot of rain in recent weeks. We went out on our catamaran "Cetus" towards the east of the island. As is often the case there were many common dolphins around, so we spent some time watching them darting around and under the boat. There were many juveniles in the groups, several of which were playfully jumping around us. Today was not a whale day, so we made the most of our trip back to Ponta Delgada by enjoying the beautiful south coastline of São Miguel and stopping to see Vila Franca Islet.

Common dolphins just about to surface

Top deck and lower deck watching common dolphins

Other side of Cetus, top and lower deck

Bow of Cetus full of colours

A young watcher enjoying the dolphins

Yellow legged seagull at Vila Franca Islet

Vila Franca Islet

Saturday, March 16, 2013

After many days confined on land due to heavy rain and strong winds this morning we were finally able to return to the sea for whale watching. We had two of our boats out on the water, our catamaran "Cetus" and our smaller boat "Song of Whales". During the tour everybody had the chance to see three of our resident species: common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and sperm whales. The sperm whales were nice to see as the group included many young babies, some of which looked to be newborns. The bottlenose dolphins were also great as they were very active and all travelling together with strong leaps out of the water.
Following are some photos from this morning:

Common dolphin with an unusual fin

Bottlenose dolphins with Vila Franca Islet in the background

Our boat "Song of whales" with bottlenose dolphins
Watching sperm whales from Cetus

Four sperm whales together

Sperm whales close to shore

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Eye to eye with a wild orca in São Miguel, Azores

Today we had great luck to be able to go out (after more than a week of bad weather) in he morning and afternoon. In the morning 3 boats left the marina and we had over 150 common dolphins all around. In the afternoon we had only one zodiac and we encountered the common dolphins followed by orcas. It was a great surprise to see the orcas that usually do not pass the Azores often. Recently we have been lucky to see them more frequently. One of our vigias also spotted orcas off the coast about two and a half weeks ago, we encountered a male orca with a ray in January and in May and April last year we also had encounters with some orcas that stayed in the area for three days. Today's group of orcas was made up of at least 6 individuals (males and females) and several of them were very curious and approached our boat. Below you will see an our video and some images we took, including underwater photos of one curios female that approached us twice. This afternoon our vigia also spotted sperm whales and a baleen whale, but we ended up focusing all our attention on the orcas.

Photos from the afternoon (scroll down to see photos from our morning tour):

Underwater footage of the orca. The video can also be viewed in youtube by clicking HERE

Eye to eye with an orca right beside our boat

Male orca

Male orca with São Miguel in the background

Orca approaching our boat

Marine biologist Miranda filming the orcas eye to eye from the boat, video (amazing) will be up later!

Curios female hovering under our boat

Female orca looking up at the bottom of our boat

Males diving under our boat

Common dolphins under our zodiac

Photos from the morning:

Common dolphin

Whale watchers on board Song of whales watching a common dolphin

Aboard our catamaran Cetus, approaching Vila Franca Islet

Aboard Cetus, watching Song of Whales

Viewing Vila Franca Islet from aboard Cetus

Whale watchers on the catamaran Cetus

Azorean buzzard, Vila Franca Islet

 Common dolphin

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