Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May 2016 sightings statistics

It's been another fantastic month of whale and dolphin watching off São Miguel in the Azores. In total we encountered 11 different species; 6 whale species and 5 dolphin species. This is typical for the Azores during the spring time, the best time of the year to see the greatest number of species. We have encountered both regulars that we see often and know very well (especially our resident groups of bottlenose dolphins, such as the group of "Bubblemaker") and new visitors that we have not encountered here before. All of the sperm whales, blue whales and humpback whales we encountered in May are new to us, meaning that we have not photographed them here before and they are now new additions to our catalogues. One of the humpback whales we saw at the start of the month stayed around São Miguel for at least a week and a half and was also seen off northeast Iceland last year. We definitely had some nice surprises this past month, including a rare encounter with beaked whales, a very curious minke whale that came to check out all our boats and even a curiuos blue whale.  As well as whales and dolphins this month we encountered loggerhead turtles, leatherback turtles, a sunfish, hammerhead shark, blue shark, flying fish and free-floating animals such as Portuguese man-o-war, jellyfish, salps and a tunicate colony. As for the birds, we now have a lot of Cory's shearwaters around as well as plenty of gulls, terns and some rare visitors including some little egrets and a black-headed gull at the end of the month.

Whale and dolphin sighting frequencies by day in order of those encountered most often:

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The calm after the storm

After a few days of bad weather we finally had the "calm after the storm". Today we could enjoy a beautiful sea full of marine life. 

We started the morning with a small group of Risso´s dolphins. It is always a pleasure to see these amazing creatures! After the dolphins we went to the area where the lookout found a family of sperm whales. We could enjoy the company of one of them who was really playful rolling around, showing us part of its tail, we could even see its head out of the water, sometimes we ask ourselves... who is watching whom? When we were starting the way back we had one last surprise... a fin whale!! The second largest animal in the world!

In the afternoon we had two tours, during the first one we saw a nice group of common dolphins, bowriding the boat. When we were heading to the area of a fin whale we saw a group of bottlenose dolphins but they were really spread out so we saw them really quickly. We found a fin whale again, this time it was really calm for a while, checking every boat. We ended this day with two different groups of common dolphins.

Photos from today:

Sperm whale tail

Fin whale blowing

Fin whale surfacing

Sperm whale head

Dorsal fin from the fin whale

Friday, May 27, 2016

A distant blow

Today we went in different directions to encounter different groups of dolphins. Our boat Song of Whales were with a group of bottlenose dolphins while the smaller boats stayed with a lonely bottlenose dolphins. It's rare to find them alone but sometimes they sent out scouts to find food or a male leavs a group to search for females. Next we found a large group of common dolphins and Song of Whales joined us. Then we set of to an area of a fin whale. Several of our boats never saw the body of the whale, they only the blow in the distance. But one boat were lucky to see the whale good enough to confirm the species. We also past by the beautiful place of Vila Franca Islet. The boats left the marina again in the afternoon in search of whales and dolphins, this time to the west of Ponta Delgada. We searched an area where our lookout had seen a sperm whale earlier, but unfortunately we did not see it, not even the blow this time. We did have a nice encounter with our friendly common dolphins though.

Photos from today:

The big lonely bottlenose dolphin - SMILE

Common dolphins surfing

"Alfredo" with a common dolphin friend

At Vila Franca Islet

Red rock crabs

Hello "Song of Whales"

Photos from the afternoon:


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sperm whales in the waves

Today we had an adventurous ride out on the ocean to see a group of sperm whales to the east. Our coastal lookout did a great job of finding this family of whales before cloud closed in over the island. In total there were at least 6 whales that were coming up and going on shallow dives together. It was a great reward to see them all side by side after our wavy ride out to see them. We were also rewarded with an encounter with a group of our resident bottlenose dolphins that seemed to love the waves as they leaped high over them. 

Photos from today:

 Sperm whale

 Family of Sperm whales

Sperm whale in the waves

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Blues and fins and jumping dolphins

Today was a day of activty. We had 3 tour and all the day we were with whales and dolphins. In the morning it started difficult. We had several fin whales out there but it took us a lot of time before we had a great encounter with them. But it sure was worth it, and we also encountered common dolphins. In the afternoon we upgraded to larger animals as our lookout spotted 3 blue whales. We could easily follow the blue colour through the water and predict their surfacings and get good photos. We also encountered bottlenose dolphins (together with the blue whales) and common dolphins (feeding and jumping). For the third tour we repeated this. Lots of feeding and jumping dolphins and the same 3 amazing blues. A long day, but a perfect day. 

Photos from the morning:

One of two fin whales

The second fin whale

Fin whale

Photos from the afternoon tour:

Bottlenose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphin

Bottlenose dolphin

Common dolphins feeding with Cory's shearwater

Common dolphin

Common dolphin

Watching a blue whale surfacing

Blue whale head

Blue whale and São Miguel

Photos from the third tour:

Blue whale - close encounter

Blue whale

Some mating going on 

High jumps!

Bottlenose dolphins giving us the perfect photo moment

Friday, May 20, 2016

Colour in the water

Once again we enjoyed the company of curious fin whales. We had one whale that really gave our boats a treat by swimming close to us and we could easy follow the colour through the water. But we did have a second whale around as well, and a third one further offshore. What amazing animals!  Closer to the coast we also had a wonderful group of bottlenose dolphins giving us a true dolphin show.

Photos from today:

Fin whale

Fin whale

Bottlenose dolphin

Bottlenose dolphin

Bottlenose dolphin

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