Saturday, April 30, 2016

April 2016 sighting statistics

April has been another great month for whale and dolphin watching off São Miguel Island in the Azores. During this past month we have encountered a total of 10 different cetacean species. The most encountered was the fin whale, which we encountered all but 2 days of the month! This is the time of the year that fin whales migrate past the Azores, together with blue whales, sei whales and humpback whales. We also had a few encounters with our resident sperm whales as well as plenty of dolphins (bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins, striped dolphins, Risso's dolphins and false killer whales. As well as whales and dolphins we have seen plenty of loggerhead turtles, some sharks, a spearfish and even ocean sunfish. Below are our sighting frequencies of the whale and dolphin species we encountered during April:

Sighting frequencies of species seen during April, in order of most encountered:

Ending April with whales

We ended April with some different sightings. In the morning we encountered false killer whales, bottlenose dolphins and striped dolphins. We also search long for a whale but we never got to encounter it. In the afternoon we set off to search for a humpback whale our lookout had spotted but we ended up with a very curious fin whale. We also encountered bottlenose dolphins, loggerhead turtles and flying fish. Thus ended April and we are looking forward to May. Springtime is always a time of fun and surprises here in the Azores.

Photos from today:

Fin whale

Bottlenose dolphin

One of our whale watching boats

Friday, April 29, 2016

Baleen whales and sperm whales

Today was a day of both baleen whales and sperm whales. In the morning we encountered one of the baleen whale species, a fin whale that was still quite small, possibly a large juvenile or a young adult. The afternoon was the time of the sperm whales. They were quite close to shore, not far from the airport. We had some nice encounter with three of these sperm whales from aboard our catamaran. We also encountered plenty of dolphins today, in the morning common dolphins and Risso's dolphins and in the afternoon bottlenose dolphins (the group of Bubblemaker). 

Photos from the morning:

Photos from the afternoon:

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The largests of the world! What a trip. After a few days of bad weather seeing the largest animals in the world is the best gift we could have. The Blue Whale and the Fin Whale!!!! In the morning we also found a very friendly group of common dolphins and suddenly two Bottlenose Dolphins appears in the middle to join the party. It is days like this that make us love our work.
Os maiores do mundo! Que viagens. Depois de uns dias de mau tempo nada como ver os maiores animais do mundo. A Baleia Azul e a Baleia Comum!!!! De manhã encontramos um grupo muito simpático de golfinhos comuns e, de repente, aparecem bem no meio dois Golfinhos Roazes a juntarem-se à festa. São dias como este que nos fazem adorar o nosso trabalho.
  Caretta caretta | Loggerhead sea turtle

Monday, April 25, 2016

Another whale of a day

Our whale days are continuing all throughout April. So far this month we have encountered whales during 100% of our tours! This is the time of the year that we see the most species, including the large baleen whales that are migrating through the Azores. Today we encountered the second largest, the fin whale. In the morning we encountered 3 fin whales travelling together and in the afternoon 2 of them were still around. From a couple of our boats our clients had the lucky opportunity of being up close and personal with the whales as they became curious and approached the boats a few times. During these rare close-up encounters you get to really appreciate the size of these great whales. We also had some nice dolphin encounters today, with bottlenose dolphins in the morning (the famous group of Bubblemaker) and common dolphins as well as bottlenose dolphins in the afternoon. Some clients also spotted loggerhead turtles throughout the day and in the afternoon a few clients with a keen eye also spotted a shark.

Photos from the morning:

One of the fin whales approaching one of our boats, then passing close in front of it

Two of the fin whales together

Juvenile bottlenose dolphin leaping

Watching the bottlenose dolphins

Photos from the afternoon:

One of the fin whales swimming straight towards us

Another angle of the front of the whale

The same fin whale that approached one of our zodiac boats in the morning

Almost showing us the tail

Watching one of the fin whales

Portuguese man-o-war

Friday, April 22, 2016

Blue, fin and sperm whales

In the morning we saw lots of different species from our boats. We all encountered fin whales, three large adults swimming gracefully together. Some of our boats also saw false killer whales and bottlenose dolphins, and some of us saw common dolphins surfing and jumping like crazy in the high waves. We searched a long time for a humpback whale but no luck with this individual. In the afternoon we encountered two blue whales, but our boats stayed with the bigger one. Then one of our boat encoutered common dolphins while the other one saw striped dolphins. And the "grand final" were 3 social sperm whales. All in all 7 species again!

Photos from the morning:

Fin whale

Photos from the afternoon:

Blue whale

Sperm whale

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Humpback whales, fin whales and dolphins

It's another great day in São Miguel with whales and dolphins everywhere! The humpback whale we encountered yesterday was still around, very close to Ponta Delgada in the morning. One of our boats went to see this whale while others headed offshore to see a different humpback whale. When we returned to land later we received the exciting news that a whale watching guide working in Iceland encountered the very same whale in northeast Iceland in July last year (this can be seen by comparing photos of the underside of the tail which is unique with different marks for each individual). It's exciting to see that our photo-ID research is helping us to learn more about these endangered animals that we still know very little about. In the past we have also matched humpback whales with Cape Verde and Norway, with the help of researchers that maintain the NAHWC (North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalogue).

As for other species, today we also had some fin whales around in the morning, although they were a bit more difficult to watch than the humpback whales. Our boats that went offshore managed to see two different fin whales. We also had a nice encounter with a small group of bottlenose dolphins inshore that our swimming with dolphins clients spent the morning with, having some memorable underwater encounters. 

In the afternoon we resighted the humpback whale and once again we got a true show from this playful and curious indiviual. Check out the photos of the whale lobtailing, the whale was also tailbreaching and pec-fin slapping. Then we set of to see fin whales, although they were less playful then the humpback whale. We also encountered bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins and we ended with a last glimpse at the humpback whale.

Photos from the morning:

One of the two humpback whales from today, close to Ponta Delgada

Humpback whale diving - the one that was sighted in Iceland last year

Humpback whale curving its back to dive

Humpback whale with its long pectoral fins spread out

Watching the humpback whale from aboard our boat "Song of Whales"

Fin whale

Watching bottlenose dolphins

Curious bottlenose dolphins

Our swimming boat with the bottlenose dolphins

Photos from the afternoon:

Humpback whale lobtailing

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