Friday, January 31, 2014

January 2014 sighting statistics

2014 has started very nicely with 100% common dolphin and bottlenose dolphin, and a kick start of the baleen whale season with a fin whale. The crew was extremely happy to get this first taste of spring after the winter. Not only have we enjoyed the cetaceans this month, we have seen plenty of birds, the ocean has been full of black-legged kittiwakes, great skuas, and a few early Cory's shearwaters. Along the coast, the biologists have also seen lots of other birds such as egrets, herons, ruddy turnstones and other waders. Lets see what spring will bring us!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

First whales of 2014!

This morning we encountered the first two whales of 2014 off São Miguel Island. They were be two beautiful fin whales (a adult and a juvenile), kick-starting an early baleen whale season this year, which we hope will continue this way. Not only did we enjoy the company of the two fin whales, we also had two groups of common dolphins and a group of bottlenose dolphins, once again showing their curious behavior of looking back at us as only dolphins can do. We got our first taste of spring, not only because of the presence of the whales, but also because we sighted the first Cory's shearwaters of the season. To end our tour we sighted a beautiful bright rainbow over the island on our way back along the coastline. What a wonderful morning on the sea, and here are some photos from this tour:

Fin whale dorsal fin cutting through the water

Fin whale surfacing, creating a big wave in front of its head

Common dolphin

Bottlenose dolphin

Bottlenose dolphins

Cory's shearwater

Rainbow over Vila Franca do Campo

Ruddy turnstones on Vila Franca Islet

Friday, January 24, 2014

Dolphins, more dolphins and jumping fish

Today we had two zodiacs going out on an calm and perfect ocean. Our lookout quickly told us were to go to find a group of bottlenose dolphins, but before we arrived we had common dolphins everywhere. They were very spread out, and busy fishing (hunting), but we made a stop to see them before heading towards their bigger cousins. The bottlenose dolphins were lovely, swimming close to the boats, bowriding and sticking their heads out to look at us. Further on we had more common dolphins hunting, jumping high out of the water and mackerel jumping all around them, giving us a very cool show. Photos from this morning:

Common dolphin snapping fish, that are jumping

Common dolphins hunting just in front of us,
and we had the pleasure to visit this feast

One of our boats with bottlenose dolphins

A large group of bottlenose dolphins

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dolphins looking for an easy meal

Although this morning was grey and a bit misty the important thing is that we had the chance to go out on the ocean and encounter some groups of dolphins. Within a few minutes of leaving the marina we came across common dolphins together with many gulls and some local fishing boats. The dolphins, gulls and boats were all going for the same thing...mackerel. It seemed that the dolphins were looking for an easy meal as they were hanging around the boats, waiting for them to put in their nets and throw back the fish they did not want to keep. The gulls were also joining in the feeding, diving down and grabbing the small fish off the surface. Further offshore one of our two boats also had a brief encounter with some bottlenose dolphins. The poor light and wavy ocean made today difficult for good photography, but we did manage to capture a few decent shots.

Common dolphin approaching a mackerel fishing boat

Common dolphins wave surfing

Fishermen throwing mackerel overboard

One of our zodiacs out with common dolphins

Common dolphin

 Fishing boats just outside of Ponta Delgada

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dolphins and winter seabirds

This morning we had the chance to go out to sea on one of our zodiac boats. The weather was a bit crisp and the sea slightly choppy, but we had a fun ride and after some searching we encountered a nice group of bottlenose dolphins. It was the same group of individuals that we saw on our last tour last week as we could recognise some of the individuals including one with a bent dorsal fin who we call "Kinky" and one with a broken jaw. After a nice time with the bottlenose dolphins we went further inshore to search for common dolphins. They were very spread out but in the end we found a common dolphin feeding together with a small group of gulls, in an area where there was also a fishing boat. The boats, dolphins and birds were all hunting mackerel close to shore.

 Bottlenose dolphin with Sete Cidades in the background

 Juvenile bottlenose dophin

 Bottlenose dolphin tail slapping

 A well known bottlenose dolphin with a broken top jaw

Gulls chasing each other after a fight over a fish

 Traditional mackerel fishing boat

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Dolphins brighten up a winter's day

The stormy weather has passed (hopefully the last of the winter) and this morning the sea was very calm off São Miguel island. We had three of our zodiac boats out on the water during the morning and we had some nice encounters with some slightly shy common dolphins followed by a large group of bottlenose dolphins. We even managed to spot a tiny newborn bottlenose dolphin calf - a nice start to 2014!

One of the common dolphins that were dispersed everywhere

Bottlenose dolphins in the beautiful winter light

 Two of our boats

 There were at least 30 bottlenose dolphins in the group

A close encounter for our clients

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Looking back to 2013

2013 has been another great year for whale watching and swimming with dolphins with Futurismo in São Miguel Azores. Although we had some bad weather in March and April (unfortunately preventing us from going out and seeing many of the blue whales that were passing at that time, we had a really great summer season with hardly any tour cancelled from May to September. Below are some of our highlights of 2013:

  •  Our tour success rate throughout the year was 99.4% (there were only 2 tours in which we did not see any whales or dolphins).
  • We encountered 17 different whale and dolphin species throughout the year.
  • 2013 was our best year on record for seeing orcas (also known as killer whales). A pod of at least 10 individuals stayed around São Miguel from January to May and during this time we had 17 encounters on 13 days. Orcas are considered rare in the Azores and we never know when they will show up.
  • 2013 was also our record year for Bryde's whales. On 9 tours we encountered Bryde's whales (a species we do not see here every year).

The graph below shows the encounter locations of our most common whale species in 2013:

The graph below shows the encounter locations of our 2 most common dolphin species in 2013:

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