Friday, October 31, 2014

October 2014 sighting statistics

During the month of October we encountered 7 different whale and dolphin species. There are not many place in the world where you can routinely see such a diversity of cetacean species in such a short time frame! Our resident sperm whale has not been as present as is usually expected for this time of the year, but we have had a surprise visit from a migrating fin whale and also a group of Sowerby's beaked whales. Of course it's not just about the whales as we have also enjoyed the company of common dolphins every day that we have been out this past month (a 100% sighting rate!) as well as bottlenose dolphins, Risso's dolphins and perhaps some of the last Atlantic spotted dolphins for the season. Lets see what surprises the next month will bring us...

Dolphins creating memorable experiences

Today we enjoyed a beautiful summer-like day out on the ocean. Contrary to yesterday the sea was calm and flat so we could all enjoy the boat ride. Out there we had the company of two of our resident dolphin species: common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins. We had both our whale watching boat and swimming boat out there with them and the dolphins created some nice memorable experiences for our guests. We had many children aboard our catamaran and it is a lovely experience to see children watch dolphins, and having dolphins looking back. On our way back along the coastline we also passed by Vila Franca Islet to see the crater and its wildlife.

Common dolphin

How many bottlenose dolphins can you see?

Our swimming boat with bottlenose dolphins

Watching Vila Franca Islet from our catamaran

A yellow-legged gull contrasting against the black lava stone rock of Vila Franca Islet

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Trying the luck

Today we had to cancel the morning tours due to rain, but we set sail in the afternoon instead. Our lookout had spotted the blow from a baleen whale, most likely a sei whale, and we went to the area to search. It was before we left the harbour that he saw it and he did not resight the whale. It was a little bit rough out there and "white horses" doesn't make it easy. We spent some time searching but unfortunately we were unlucky in this sense. But we were lucky with dolphins, both common dolphins to start the tour and bottlenose dolphins to finish. The bottlenose dolphins were the highlight as they were surfing happily in the waves and we got to see some nice jumps out of the waves close to our catamaran. 

Photos from today:

A bottlenose dolphins next to us

Bottlenose dolphins having fun!!

Cory's shearwater

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Exploring the underwater world of the Azores

This morning we set out to swim with dolphins out in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, in the Azores! Just outside our base in Ponta Delgada we encountered several groups of common dolphins, each group of a different size and with a different behaviour. We managed to get a few nice swims with the different groups and we also observed them above water, including some tiny babies leaping out of the waves. But today it wasn't just dolphins that we got to swim with. We had a small swimming group and time spare time after the dolphins had moved on, so we went towards the coastline to snorkel around the rocks and observe some local fish species. It was a beautiful experience being surrounded by many different species, as if we were inside a natural aquarium. Some of the fish, like the ornate wrasse, are very brightly coloured so it was nice to see the contrast of them against the dark backdrop of the black lava stone walls. We also spotted many bright red seastars scattered along the bottom. It was really a unique experience this morning, exploring the underwater world of the Azores!

Some photos of the snorkeling:

One of our clients snorkeling

A bearded fireworm

Starfish everywhere!

A blenny resting on a rock ledge

Beautiful rock layers created by the forces of mother nature

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A lucky strike in the mist

This morning we went whale and dolphin watching in the mist. The low cloud that was hanging over the island made the job of spotting animals more difficult for our lookouts. Nevertheless they did find us some nice common dolphins and a few bottlenose dolphins near the coastline. The whales were further out so it was a lucky strike that we managed to find a sperm whale out there for ourselves. We went out with our catamaran and a zodiac and after not too long waiting we spotted a low blow. It was the characteristic blow of a sperm whale! We watched the adult female at the surface for a while, until it raised its tail high out of the water to start a deep feeding dive. This sperm whale is one that we already know, she is called Marble and we first saw her the 15th of October, 2010. She got her beautiful name from one of our clients. What a lucky strike to be able to find this sperm whale out there in the mist!

Bottlenose dolphin

Sperm whale logging

Sperm whale diving

Bye bye Marble!

Common dolphin

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A weekend with a whale and dolphins

Our weekend here in São Miguel, Azores started with a sperm whale that we have come to know very well. We call him Mr Liable, coming from the word reliable. We have given him this name because he is reliable in terms of regularly returning to São Miguel island, making regular dives of the same duration throughout the day so that we can predict when he will resurface, and best of all he is reliable in showing us his beautiful big tail every time he goes on a deep dive. We have been seeing Mr Liable here for many years and by now he has become a large mature bull at least 16 m in length. Throughout the weekend we also saw plenty of dolphins. On Sunday there was no sign of any sperm whales in the area anymore, but our clients did enjoy the company of several groups of common dolphins and a nice boat ride on a sunny morning. It sure is great being in the company of these beautiful dolphins and our swimmers were able to enjoy this from a different point of view - under water. On Saturday the common dolphins were also around, as well as a group of bottlenose dolphins. What a great way to spend a weekend!

Mr Liable in our fluke catalogue. We can easily recognise him from the marks on his tail

Photos from Sunday's tour:

Three dolphins - a mating group "playing around" our catamaran Cetus

The three surfacing together

A Manx shearwater taking off - a slightly more rare bird skilfully spotted by one of our zodiac clients

Going to check our an extinct volcanic crater in the ocean - Vila Franca Islet

Aboard Cetus

Arriving back to our base in Ponta Delgada
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