Sunday, July 31, 2016

July 2016 sighting statistics

We are leaving the spring time behind and entering the true Azorean summer time. Now we are having mostly summer time sightings, although during July there were still a few late migrating sei whales and fin whales passing São Miguel. The most encountered whale during July was the sperm whale, with encounters during 68% of the days we went out to sea. The majority of the Atlantic spotted dolphins are still to arrive, but its great to finally be seeing them here now, later than in past years. The most encountered dolphin species were the common dolphin (100% sightings rate) followed by the bottlenose dolphin (97% sightings rate). This month we also had some surprise rare encounters with orcas (killer whales) one day, false killer whales another day and several species of beaked whales throughout the month. As usual, we also encountered loggerhead turtles manta rays and sharks, among other types of marine life that the Azores is well known for.

5 Species of dolphins!

Today was a dolphin day! In our tours of the day we could enjoy with the company of 5 different species of dolphins.

In the Azores there are three resident species, today we started the morning seeing the three of them! the species that we see more often are the common dolphin and the bottlenose dolphin but today we could see the other one...Risso's dolphin! It was a nice group with many young ones. We finished the morning with a large group of Atlantic spotted dolphin, one of our summer visitors! the group was very active, bow riding and jumping out of the water... an excelent opportunity for our clients to take pictures that they will always remember!

The afternoon was also full of dolphins, we could add another species to our dolphin list...striped dolphin! another species that prefers warm waters. We could see them making long shallow leaps above the water changing the direcction all the time... that's what we usually see in the Azores when we encountered this species! What a day!    

Photos from today:

Atlantic spotted dolphin jumping

Group of Striped dolphin

Mom and baby Spotted dolphin

Atlantic spotted dolphin

Risso's dolphin

Baby common dolphin

Bottlenose dolphins surfacing

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Amazing summer day!

Today we had a very varied day. We spent the morning in the company of some common and spotted dolphins.
In the afternoon, the sea was more cheerful: we encounter a family of sperm whales; they were quit and curious about one of our zodiac boats. We also saw very active bottlenose dolphins jumping and a big pod of spotted dolphins.
We also saw many different species as a shark, turtles, flying squids and a tiny sunfish.

Some photos of the trips:

 Curious Sperm Whale's head

 Resting in the surface

Bottlenose dolphins jumping

Young Atlantic Spotted dolphins

Friday, July 29, 2016

A day with a group of sperm whales and dolphins

It's been another fantastic day out on the ocean, this time in the company of a group of about 6 sperm whales that were at the surface together, both during the morning tour and the afternoon. They didn't seem to want to dive and show their tails today, but it was nice to see them at the surface together, several adult females and juveniles. We also encountered different dolphin species throughout the day to complete our tours. Between the different boats and different tours today we managed to encounter bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins. It's been another great summer Azorean day!

Photos from today:

The sperm whale group

Thursday, July 28, 2016

6 whale and dolphin species

Today's list of species we encountered is long. In total we encountered 6 different whale and dolphin species throughout the day. In the morning we all started with our friendly common dolphins close to shore, and a bit further out the playful Atlantic spotted dolphins. Out of Ponta Delgada we also had sperm whales to see, two adult females that our lookout had spotted from land. While our catamaran was travelling out to the area of these whales the crew onboard spotted some pilot whales, which turned out to be a nice group of at least 30 individuals, including females with calves. The two sperm whales turned out to be individuals we recognise from the unique marks they have on their tails, numbers 154 and 206 in our sperm whale catalogue. From one boat two giant oceanic manta rays were also encountered at the surface. 

In the afternoon our small boat set out first to encounter a baleen whale close to shore. It was a sei whale, the third largest animal in the world. The catamaran joined the small boat a bit later but there was no sign of the whale anymore. So the catamaran set offshore again to try to find the sperm whales from the morning. It took a lot of searching, but our patience paid off as again a crew member was the first to spot a sperm whale. After we found the first one more kept appearing one after another until we saw 6 sperm whales in total. The last sperm whale was one from the morning, number 206 in our catalogue. All our boats also encountered common dolphins in the afternoon and our swimming clients were with bottlenose dolphins.

Photos from the morning: 

Breaching sperm whale, photo captured by one of our clients

Two sperm whale side by side

 Sperm whale tail (number 154 in our catalogue)

  Sperm whale tail (number 206 in our catalogue)

Pilot whales

Pilot whales (adult female with a juvenile)

Atlantic spotted dolphin

Giant oceanic manta ray

Photos from the afternoon:

Sperm whale diving

Sperm whale outside of Ponta Delgada

Sperm whale watching aboard our catamaran

The last tail of the day, number 206 in our catalogue (also seen in the morning)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Dolphin energy

It's been another fantastic dolphin day. We spent the day with 3 different dolphin species: bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins. It's always great to see dolphins, especially when they are acrobatic (as the spotted dolphins were today), leaping high out of the water. It's also a treat to see the small babies that they have in their groups at this time of the year. Our swimming clients had a great time observing them in their underwater world, while the rest of us enjoyed them from aboard our different boats that were out on the water.

Photos from today: 

 Bottlenose dolphins

 Bottlenose dolphins close to shore

 Seeing bottlenose dolphins from aboard our catamaran

 Our swimming boat in the morning with bottlenose dolphins

 Atlantic spotted dolphins

  Atlantic spotted dolphins

 Swimming with bottlenose dolphins

Atlantic spotted dolphins in the afternoon

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Dolphins and their babies

Today it was a great day of dolphins an their babies! Summer time is when we see more babies, as it is the best time to be born in the see, the water is warmer, there are fewer storms and there is plenty of food available. Both in morning and afternoon we also tried to see a fin whale, but we were not lucky to encounter it both times, although we did get glimpses of its blow.

Photos from today:

Atlantic spotted dolphin (a juvenile without spots)

Dolphin watching aboard our catamaran

The dorsal fin of a hammerhead shark (afternoon)

Monday, July 25, 2016

Playful dolphins and mysterious whales

Today's tours were all about the dolphins. We tried to see whales too, as we did have baleen whales around, but it was difficult to actually see them today. In the morning we only got as far as seeing a blow from one of the whales once, and in the afternoon we saw some blows but also the body of one at the surface. We waited patiently for the whales to return to the surface but never saw them again. From their blows we could see they were one of the baleen whale species, and the body we saw in the afternoon indicated it was a fin whale. It is late in the year to see these springtime migrators, so we were surprised to see this much, even if we didn't see more of the animals at the surface. Nevertheless we encountered plenty of dolphins during the day. In the morning we started with some bottlenose dolphins, which turned out to be the well known group of "Bubblemaker". Next we had the playful common dolphins and from one of our boats Atlantic spotted dolphins were also seen. In the afternoon our friendly common dolphins made the tour. We saw small baby dolphins in the group, and also baby making behaviour, so it was nice to see the dolphins were making the next generation for upcoming year.

Photos from today:

Common dolphins

Common dolphins mating (notice the white belly of the male under the female)

Bottlenose dolphins

2 familiar bottlenose dolphins from Bubblemaker's group

Sunday, July 24, 2016

False killer whales and smaller dolphins

Today was a day of Egípcio and family, this fantastic group of bottlenose dolphins stayed around in a small area throughout the day so we could see and swim with them both in the morning and afternoon. Egípcio (the egyptian) got the name as the dorsal fin is triangle shaped, like a pyramid. In the morning we had a lovely surprise with a big and active group of false killer whales or pseudorcas, and we don't see them many times per year so it was great. They were feeding and we could see one carrying a big fish in its mouth. In the afternoon we saw the blow from a baleen whale (most likely a fin whale), but that was it. Sadly we never got to see this whale, but the dolphins made our day perfect. Especially the spotted dolphins that were giving us a show by jumping a lot. 

Photos from today:

Bottlenose dolphin

Bottlenose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphin (Egípcio and friends)

Watching false killer whales

False killer whales

False killer whales smile!

False killer whales

Atlantic spotted dolphin

Atlantic spotted dolphin
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