Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 sighting statistics

2015 has been another excellent year for whale and dolphin watching off São Miguel Islands in the Azores. This cetacean hotspot in the middle of the north Atlantic ocean attracts a huge diversity of whale and dolphin species, and this year was definitely a diverse year. Across the seasons this year we encountered a total of 16 different species!

As is expected the 3 most encountered species throughout the year were 3 of our resident species: the common dolphin, bottlenose dolphin and sperm whale. Next in line was the fin whale, one of the spring time migratory whales that appears to be on the increase in the Azores in recent years. Our sightings graph below summarises the sighting frequencies of all species throughout the year. The best part is that this year during all our tours we had a 100% success rate. That means that during every tour at least one species of whale or dolphin was encountered! 

Our list of other species we spotted this year includes many loggerhead turtles, leatherback turtles (2015 was a record year for leatherbacks!), sunfish, devil rays, hammerhead sharks, blue sharks, tuna, spearfish and marlin, flying fish, flying squid...and last but not least an extensive list of seabirds, with the Cory's shearwater being the most encountered one.

Sighting frequencies of cetaceans seen in 2015, in descending order:

Keep in mind that the above numbers have been grouped together for the whole year and we observe fluctuations in sighting frequencies across the months. For example the chance of seeing one of the great baleen whales (blue whale, fin whale and sei whale) is very high in the spring and virtually zero other times of the year, and sperm whale are seen more often in the summer than the rest of the year. The best time of the year to do a tour in the Azores depends on what you want to see. The following chart is a rough guide, or for more detailed statistics from our previous years of whale and dolphin watching click HERE.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

December 2015 sightings statistics

December has been a good month in terms of whale and dolphin sightings, even though we have only had 7 tours this month due to some very persistent bad weather. When the weather was nice and we were out on the water we enjoyed some nice encounters with 3 of our resident species (sperm whale, bottlenose dolphin and common dolphin) as well as 2 migratory whales (humpback whale and fin whale). One of the sperm whale days was with a juvenile and the others with our trusty returning resident who we call Mr Liable. The fin whale and humpback whale were a nice suprise for this time of the year since we see them mostly during the spring time. With a bit more bad weather now we bring our sighting statistics to a close for 2015 and we are looking forward to getting back out on the water the first day of 2016. We would like to thank our clients from 2015 and wish you all a great 2016. Thank you also to our dedicated readers and we hope to keep you entertained with more stories of fantastic whale and dolphin encounters throughout 2016.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Enjoying the dolphins of the Azores

Today we finally have nice sea conditions after a week and a half of bad weather and stormy seas. Of course we only go out if conditions allow and it is safe, and today was our lucky day. We went out in the morning aboard our catamaran Quatro Ventos. We enjoyed riding the swells out there together with bottlenose dolphins and later common dolphins. The bottlenose dolphins were familiar faces, or rather familiar fins to us. From the unique natural marks on their dorsal fins we can see who is who, and today we encountered the group of "Bubblemaker". Bubblemaker is a dolphin that is easy to recognise not only from its dorsal fin, but also from its bubble-blowing behaviour. The bottlenose dolphins were diving, probably feeding, but we enjoyed some nice moments with them when they returned from their dives. The common dolphins were just as interesting to watch. These smaller dolphins are usually more active, and today was one of those days that we could really see this. They were darting around our boat, swimming alongside and in front and even mating for all to see. It's great to know that they are creating more baby dolphins for the next year!

Photos from today:

Bottlenose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphin

Bottlenose dolphins

Common dolphins

Common dolphin

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Cleaning up our oceans

On the 13th of December Futurismo staff did something completely different for their Christmas function. This year we spent the morning doing a good deed for mother nature before enjoying our usual Christmas games in the afternoon. The morning was spent on Monte Verde beach on the north coast of São Miguel Island, removing rubbish from the coastline. Unfortunately like many other places around the world this beach is very polluted and is covered in a whole array of different types of rubbish.  A lot of this rubbish from the coastline, as well as from inland, washes into the oceans where it becomes a huge problem for the marine environment and the animals that live there. Every year an estimated million seabirds, 100,000 marine mammals and countless turtles and even fish are killed by plastic in or around their bodies. About 90% of this rubbish is plastic, a very durable substance which doesn't dissapear, rather it breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces until it become microplastic that ends up in the food chain and returns to us on our dinner plates through the fish that we eat. 

The good news is that we can all help make a difference by making a few small changes in our lives. Don't forget to not just reuse and recycle, but also try to reduce your use of plastic in the first place. Please say no to plastic shopping bags and reuse your own stronger cloth or canvas bags instead. Finally, we can all make sure our rubbish gets disposed of properly so it doesn't end up in nature. Below are some photos of Futurismo's efforts to reduce the amount of rubbish on Monte Verde beach. You can also see a video with more information about this huge problem by clicking HERE.

Before and after

Before and after

Before and after

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Just in time for a majestic fluke

Today we started with two different groups of bottlenose dolphins, first Bubblemakers group close to the shoreline and further out a larger group of bottlenose dolphins that were very active. After them we stopped in an area were our lookout had seen Mr Liable (sperm whale) diving. We arrived a bit early and had to wait almost 40 min for him. But he surface far away and we had to hurry to catch him while on the surface. Due to the great work of our lookout and captain we arrived in time to see him rest and breath eand later a fantastic tail just like yesterday. On the way back we had company from both more bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins.

Photos from today:

Mr. Liable, last breath before deep dive

Bottlenose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins - Bubblemaker and friend

Common dolphins bowriding

Watching common dolphins

Enjoying the winter sunshine

The ride back

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Humpback whales and the fantastic Mr Liable

Today was a whale day! Our lookout spotted two different whales species for us. The first one we encountered were humpback whales. Not one, but two! It didn't take much waiting before the first whale surfaced, and to our surpise it came up close alongside our boat. We spent a bit of time with this juvenile humpback whale before we switched over to the adult. We got to see them on several surfacings and the juvenile even showed us its tail twice. The second whale species of the tour was a large male sperm whale. It was one we know very well, a whale we call Mr Liable. As usual, Mr Liable did not dissapoint us today. He stayed up for a long time so we got to see him well and then he showed us his beautiful big tail. To complete the tour today we also encountered a group of at least 20 common dolphins between our whale encounters. They played around our bow for a bit, putting smiles on everyone's faces as they always do.

Photos from today:

Humpback whale

Humpback whale

Humpback whale tail (compare the white colour under with the all dark sperm whale)

Mr Liable at the surface

Mr Liable diving

Sperm whale (Mr. Liable)

Common dolphin

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