Thursday, June 30, 2016

June 2016 sighting statistics

It's been another great month of whale watching in São Miguel. During the month of June we encountered 10 cetacean species: 5 whale species and 5 dolphin species. We are still in the switch over time between spring sightings and summer sightings, as we are still seeing the spring migrating whales (fin whales, sei whales and humpback whales) and we are seeing an increase in sightings of our resident sperm whales that are more abundant during the warmer summer months. The Atlantic spotted dolphins haven't arrived yet, so they are later than expected this year, nevertheless we have had plenty of sightings of our resident bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins and Risso's dolphin, and we have had some rare visits of false killer whales, striped dolphins and beaked whales. As for non-cetacean species, during June we also encountered a lot of loggerhead turtles, ocean sunfish (Mola mola), hammerhead sharks, blue sharks, flying fish, jellyfish and seabirds.

Lots of fin whales around

Baleen whale season all the way to the end of June, and maybe longer. Today we encountered several fin whales, one in the morning and two or three in the afternoon. They were all a bit curious and didn't mind our company, many times we wonder who is watching who. In the morning we also encountered a mixed group of common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins. In the afternoon we resighted the common dolphins. It was a quick but beautiful encounter. We also saw lots of birds, loggerhead turtles and Portuguese man-o-war. 

Photos of fin whales from today:

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Sei whales and resident dolphins

Today we saw all of our three resident dolphin species: bottlenose, common and Risso's dolphins. Even it was a bit foggy  we managed to see all of them and both in the morning and afternoon the third biggest animal of all, two sei whales traveling. When the sei whales are traveling it is easy for us to track them as they leave a path in the surface, what we call the footprint of the whale. This effect is created with the movement up and down of the tail whale and allow us to accompany  the whale during a very very short part of their migration ;)

Some photos of the species we saw:

Bottlenose dolphins

Risso's dolphin

Sei whale

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Family day!

Today we had a family day!

The sea conditions today were really nice and allowed us to enjoy the company of different animals. During our tours we were lucky to see different families of cetaceans. We saw different family groups of dolphins from both species, common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins

The encounter with the  sperm whales was really special, we had a family of at least 8 individuals including a newborn calf and a juvenile. They were really active at the surface, doing spyhopping, showing parts of the tail, rolling around and upside down... what a show! one of our boats was lucky enough to see a baby close to the boat... newborns are especially curious! 

Photos from today:

Family of sperm whales 

Dorsal fins and part of the fluke from the sperm whales

Baby sperm whale

Lower jaw of the sperm whale

Bottlenose dolphins

Watching bottlenose dolphins from aboard our catamaran

Bottlenose dolphin jumping

Watching bottlenose dolphins from aboard our catamaran

A very big bottlenose dolphin

Common dolphins

Watching common dolphins from aboard our catamaran

Our youngest photographer today

Monday, June 27, 2016

Five species and a triple tail moment

Today we encountered five different species, we started with the wonderful but shy Risso's dolphins. They stayed for a while at the surface and we could easy follow the colour through the water. But we did not stay long as we had more to see. In a small area we encountered all our resident dolphins, so the Risso's was followed by a mixed group of common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins. Then it was time for the fin whale. It was a young individual, maybe the same one that we saw yesterday. At the same time we had sperm whales all around. We left the fin whale when it went diving and headed towards four sperm whales on the surface. 3 big adults together and another one further away. We got the grand final of the morning with three flukes at once! The boat for the afternoon has left and we are curious to know what they are seeing out there.

Photos from today:

Risso's dolphins

Risso's dolphins

Our swimming boat

Smiling bottlenose dolphin

Bottlenose dolphin

Common dolphin

Fin whale

Blowholes of the fin whale

One of the sperm whales

All three together

The three sperm whales arching their backs, preparing to dive

The magic moment of the morning tour - triple flukes!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

False killer whale surprised us

Today we encountered lovely groups of common dolphins both in the morning and afternoon, they were spread out everywhere and very playful in the waves. In the morning we travelled far to see a fin whale but it was not easy to see this animal, and on the way back our biologist Ida spotted one more but this one was even more difficult. In the afternoon we encountered the common dolphins again and our biologist Laura found us a different fin whale and this time we saw it well. It was a young whale. We also had a wonderful surprise with false killer whales mixed with bottlenose dolphins

Photos from the morning:

Fin whale, far away (can you spot it?)

Lonely bottlenose dolphin in the common dolphin group

Common dolphin

Photos from the afternoon:

Common dolphin

Fin whale

Fin whale

False killer whale

False killer whale

Bottlenose dolphins

Saturday, June 25, 2016

One more day with sperm whales

This morning we started the trip with fantastic news from our lookout... a family of sperm whales waiting for us!! We travelled to the East where we could enjoy with their magnific presence.

The animals were spread out but we could see different individuals, we counted at least 11 animals, including a calf and a juvenile. It was possible to see some of them at the surface for a while before they went down on a dive. When they go for a deep dive we can see their tails out of the water, a perfect moment for the picture and more information for our research!

On the way back we found a playful group of common dolphins that were jumping out of the water and playing with our catamaran Cetus.

During the afternoon tour the lookout found a sei whale, he could see the blow two times, our zodiac boat went to the area as soon as possible but it was imposible for us to see it again. According to the lookout the whale was feeding which made it more difficult for us. We know that we are working with nature so sometimes it's not easy! But sometimes patience pays off and despite not seeing the whale we had a great time with different groups of  common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins.

Photos from today:

Sperm whales

Sperm whales

Sperm whales

Sperm whales

Sperm whales

Sperm whale preparing to dive

The first tail of the morning

Yet another beautiful sperm whale tail

Common dolphins with a tiny newborn baby

Our clients of the morning aboard our catamaran "Cetus"

Watching bottlenose dolphins during the afternoon tour

Bottlenose dolphins

Leaping bottlenose dolphins
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