Sunday, May 31, 2015

May 2015 sighting statistics

May has been an amazing month with lots of sightings; common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, striped dolphins, Risso's dolphins, in the beginning of the month we sighted false killer whales and in the end of May we sighted pilot whales. The larger friends of the sea: blue whales, fin whales, sei whales and sperm whales. We had an encounter with the rare True's beaked whales as well. So in total 11 species of cetaceans. Apart from cetaceans we saw loggerhead turtles, ocean sunfish, a few sharks and tuna plus lots of flying fish. And the grey seal is still around. Lets go out of the water and towards the sky: Cory's shearwaters, Manx shearwaters and Macaronesian shearwaters, common terns and roseate terns, yellow-legged gulls and both great skua and pomarine skua

Blue whale - 13%
Fin whale - 71%
Sei whale - 50%
Sperm whale - 17%

Fin whales, sei whales, sperm whales and dolphins

This morning we had a busy time on the ocean. We never stopped to see the common dolphins as we had sei whales a bit further out, two whales very calm in a mirror sea travelling together with us (plus a loggerhead turtle). After the sei whales we moved towards east to encounter a sperm whale family. Around our boat we had at least 7 sperm whales but we could see more blows further away. We didn't get any flukes, only parts of flukes as the whales were  rolling around and being social with each other. Then we went inshore to see three fin whales just by the coastline. They were just hanging around, very calm and swimming close to us. A magical moment and we could hear their loud blows. What about the dolphins? We had to go further offshore to see a lovely group of Risso's dolphins

Sei whale making a rainbow blow 

Sei whale surfacing

Two sperm whales

Three sperm whales logging

Fin whale

Fin whale just outside of Ponta Delgada

Risso's dolphin leaping

Risso's dolphin

Loggerhead turtle

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Another day with 5 whale and dolphin species

The sunshine from yesterday might have been absent today, but the ocean was just as calm and full of whales and dolphins. Again we encountered 5 different species throughout the day. In the morning we encountered a group of 5 or 6 sei whales travelling together, very calm and often close to the surface so that we could easily track them. A bit further out we encountered a nice group of about 60 pilot whales that were in the same area as a small group of bottlenose dolphins. Close to shore we had a larger and more familiar group of bottlenose dolphins that includes a well-known individual with a broken top jaw. Some of our whale watcheres also had the chance to encounter some common dolphins in the morning. 

In the afternoon we had bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins for some again. This time we also encoutnered two different whale species. First we had a very curious sei whale that was travelling out to the western tip of São Miguel Island. Not long after we encountered 3 or 4 fin whales that were travelling just as calmly as the sei whale. We also spotted many loggerhead turtles in the calm water and also some Portuguese man-o-war out to the west of the island. 

Photos from the morning:

 Sei whale watching

Pilot whale closeup

A group of pilot whales

Pilot whale calf surfacing high next to its mother

The bottlenose dolphin with the broken jaw

Bottlenose dolphins

Photos from the afternoon: 

Sei whale

Sei whale

Fin whale

Fin whale

Friday, May 29, 2015

A summer's day on the ocean

Today it felt just like summer in the Azores, with a clear blue sky and bright blue crystal clear water full of marine life. In the morning we encountered our three resident dolphin species: common dolphins, Risso's dolphins and bottlenose dolphins. The Risso's dolphins were particularly nice to see because we haven't seen them around lately, despite them being resident in the Azores. There were some very small Risso's dolphins in the group that were often jumping out of the water playfully. We could see from the vertical lines (fetal folds) on these calves that they were newborns no more than a few weeks old. The bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins were also great to see, gliding under the waves through the clear blue water for us all to see. We also encountered a few loggerhead turtles during our morning tour.

In the afternoon we had five different species, we started with the bottlenose dolphins, and later on 3 sei whales. They were travelling slowly west, but stayed close to us. When we slowed down, they slowed down. When w sped up a little bit to keep up with with them they went with us. Like previous encounters with sei whales this month - they acted wonderfully around our boats. After the whales we headed of towards Risso's dolphins, the same group as in the morning with the playful newborns. And last, but not least, we ended up with a mixed group of pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins. Oh, not to forget, we squeezed in a final species: common dolphins feeding with Cory's shearwaters. 

Photos from the morning: 

Eye contact with a common dolphin

Cory's shearwater. We saw a large group of them feeding with some common dolphins

Adult Risso's dolphin jumping

Risso's dolphin newborn calf jumping (notice the blue eye)

Adult and calf Risso's dolphins surfacing together

A well-marked adult Risso's dolphin

Watching Risso's dolphins

Bottlenose dolphin gliding through the perfect water

Our catamaran "Cetus" with bottlenose dolphins

The return to Ponta Delgada aboard our boat "Song of Whales"

Photos from the morning (from our catamaran Cetus):

Watching common dolphins

Common dolphin jumping

Common dolphins

Common dolphin 

Watching a loggerhead turtle and dolphins further away

Song of Whales and bottlenose dolphins

A dolphin looking at our clients in the bow of Cetus

Watching a dolphin while our biologist Sara explains about them

Photos from the afternoon:

Sei whale

Sei whale

Pilot whales

Pilot whale

Bottlenose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphin

Risso's dolphin

Risso's dolphins

Risso's dolphin smile

Risso's dolphin baby and mother

Pilot whale baby and mother

Watching bottlenose dolphins

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