Friday, June 30, 2017

June 2017 sightings statistics

June is one of the best months for whale and dolphin watching in the Azores. It's the cross over period between spring and summer, so we can see the greatest diversity of species as get the spring time migratory whales as well as the seasonal summer visitors. This year we registered encounters with 12 different whale and dolphin species. We had a really high sighting rate of large whale species and we recorded many tours with at least 3 different species. On one tour we even encountered 6 different species! This is the end of the migration time for most of the large whales, so it may be the last blue whales for the year, but if this year is anything like the last we can expect to see many more sei whales and especially fin whales, which continued throughout the summer last year. However, as we approach the warmer months we can expect our resident sperm whales to be the main whale species during our tours. Check out our daily sighting statistics from all the species we encountered during June!

Surprising day!

Today we have had a summer day with mirror like waters and sunny sky. We were able to see fin whales again in the morning, giving our clients the opportunity to enjoy the second largest whale in the world in a very calm sea. We also found a nice group of common dolphins and another one of Atlantic spotted dolphins. Both of them had babies, so a very good sign for their populations! Some of them had even some birth marks on their bodies.. so they were almost new borns! One of our boats managed to see as well beaked whales. Such a big surprise! We don't see them quite often, so we get excited every day we find them. We were not able to identify the species, because we couldn't see the head, but we know that they were Mesoplodon sp. They are deep divers, and they usually are shy just showing a bit of their back for a very short time. On the catamaran's trip we also saw a manta or devil ray leaping completely out of the water and later on another showing the tip of the fin (wing) further away.
In the afternoon we were lucky to find four different dolphin species, our three residents: common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and Risso's dolphins (the last one just form one of our boats); and one of the seasonal species: Atlantic spotted dolphins. We saw many babies in their groups. Even we didn't see any whale but the dolphins were compensating it with their active behavior, leaping, breaching and spy-hopping. On one of the photos of a common dolphin breaching, we found something attached on its body: a remora! Among the feeding common dolphins, there were a lot of shearwater, most of them Cory's, but one was Sooty shearwater! A rare sighting for us.

As you can see is not just cetaceans what we can find in this wonderful ocean. 

Photos from today:

Beaked whale of this morning tour 
Blowholes of a fin whale

Male common dolphin breaching (notice the remora attached on the side)

Swimming with bottlenose dolphins

Baby bottlenose dolphin beside its mother

Sooty shearwater

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Baleen whales don't leave us!

 Our summer tours are amazing! The sun, the quite, the sea...
Today we saw baleen whales, fin whales. It's good to know that they are still around passing by heading their feeding grounds.
Happens with this species of whale that it's possible to be sight in the Azores in late summer and even sometimes during the winter, may be because the youngest ones stay around or maybe because they find food enough for them.
Big families of common and spotted dolphins were sight also, full of babies like it happens in summer tim.

Some photos of the tours:

The beautiful morning sea...

The whales were far away today, almost in most east part of the island

Blow of fin whales can be up to 6 meters hight

The fin whale surfacing

Common dolphins were very calm in the sea that looked like a mirror

Common dolphins were very social and funny

The atlantic spotted dolphins, it's a beautifull species. In this photo we can apretiate the spots in the adult and how the young are all grey

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Another summer day!

The weather in the Azores is always a surprise. This morning we went out to sea with some drizzle, but quickly we were surprised by the sun, which remained the rest of the day! 
We had the company of two species of dolphins: our well known common dolphins and the Atlantic spotted dolphins, always delighting our customers. After some time with these species, we could also enjoy some time with sperm whales. We saw different individuals in the morning trip and in the afternoon trip and we were able to identify 2 of those individuals: a female that we call Elsemiek and her calf, Peregrine. We could identify these individuals because every tail is different, with different shapes, scars, marks... like our fingerprints.
The appearance of the sun also cheered our full-day customers who enjoyed their afternoon on the islet of Vila Franca do Campo! This islet is an extinct vulcano and a natural reserve that is sought out during the summer for bathing, snorkelling and bird watching.

Photos from today:

Two sperm whales going on a deep dive

Sperm whale surfacing

Atlantic spotted dolphins

Vila Franca do Campo islet

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Every tour is different!

Every day is different at the sea! In the morning tour we saw three different species of dolphins, two of them resident: common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins. The other species of dolphin that we saw was the Atlantic spotted dolphin, this species of dolphin is seasonal, and we usually see them when the water is warmer. After the sightings of the dolphins we were lucky enough to find sperm whales! We saw two; one of them was Mr Liable again! The other animal that we saw was smaller, it looked like a female.
The afternoon tour was really different. We saw common dolphins searching for food with many Cory’s shearwater flying around them, this species of bird feeds the same kind of fish than the dolphins so we see them together really often. After the dolphins we saw a migratory species that is still passing by: fin whales! We could smell their blow that means that they were feeding in the area. After being feeding they were really calm surfacing really often so we could take beautiful pictures of them! The catamaran Cetus was lucky to find Mr Liable again!

Photos from today:

Mr Liable going for a deep dive

The tail of Mr Liable

 Fin whale surfacing

 Cory's shearwater
Fin whale in the afternoon

Monday, June 26, 2017

The day of Mr Liable

Today was the day of Mr Liable! We saw this animal both in the morning and in the afternoon. We could see its tail out the water so we had the perfect pictures to confirm the identity of the animal. Mr Liable is an adult male sperm whale, the lifespan for the sperm whales is at least 60-70 years, we don’t know how old Mr Liable is but we know that is already an adult because of its size. Male sperm whales reach the sexual maturity at the age of 18 more or less, when they are about 11 to 12 meters long, the estimated length of Mr Liable is 17 meters so this animal is a full-grown sperm whale.

In the morning, our clients for the full day tour went to the East and they were lucky enough to see fin whales… a migratory species that is still around!

The common dolphins were spotted one more day. We found a nice group with many babies as the one you can see in the picture below!

Photos from today:

Common dolphins (mother and baby)

Pictures from Mr Liable (morning and afternoon)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Red group, Fin whales and Max's group

Today we travelled a little bit further to encounter the animals, the visibility was good and they were quite calm, offering us very good encounters. In the first tour of the day we saw two fin whales traveling together, one was quite big and the other one was much smaller, seemed like a mother with it’s calf and three sperm whales that showed us the tail.

Because of that we were able to identify them by photo ID: Pm 109, Pm 253 (Diamond) and Pm 211 (Roberta), this whales have names because they belong to a family we already know, the one we call the red group

In the afternoon we spotted once more fin whales, seemed they were the same as the ones we saw in the morning, they were heading northwest all the time and making perfect dives of 10 minutes, easy job to see them today! We also spotted pod of bottlenose dolphins, a very well known pod too, the Max’s pod.

As you can see our resident species are like neighbours for us, when possible, we know them.

Here some photos of the day:

-Sperm whales:

- The bottlenos dolphins:

 -And the fin whales:

Saturday, June 24, 2017

What an incredible summer day!

Summer has finally arrived and these days have been the perfect example: sun shining and calm sea! 

The baleen whales are still passing by, today we saw them both in the morning and in the afternoon. 
The species of baleen whale that we saw today was fin whale, the second largest animal in the world. They were with feeding behavior, but between the feeding dives, we could see them really calm surfacing several times close to our boats.

The resident sperm whales were spotted one more day. In the morning tour, we could see two of them surfacing for a while before going for a deep dive. In the afternoon tour, we had another encounter with a male sperm whale, Mr Liable. We arrived to the area of Mr Liable when it was about to dive so could see just the tail from the distance (totally worth it)!

The common dolphins were not far away from Ponta Delgada today but they were really spread out in the area… We could see small groups bow riding in front of our boats. The clients from the swimming with the dolphins tour in the afternoon were lucky enough to swim with a nice group of bottlenose dolphins!

Photos from today:

Sperm whale next to our zodiac boat

 Fin whale surfacing

 The dorsal fin from the fin whale

Sperm whale going for a deep dive

Fin whale from the afternoon tour

Friday, June 23, 2017

Resident, seasonal and migratory species today!!

Another day of sun and species of all seasons. In the morning we spot two giant fin whales and our friendly Mr Liable, a large sperm whale that has a special blow... totally different from all others sperm whales. In the distance we could see an area full of Cory's shearwaters that seemed to be feeding. We approach and we found two different species of dolphins... Atlantic spotted dolphins and bottlenose dolphins.
In the afternoon tour we could see Mr Liable again. We tried to see a fin whale that it was in the area but the animal was with feeding behavior so it was really complicated to see it. We tried our best but nature can be difficult sometimes.

Photos from today:

Fin Whale

Mr. Liable

Fin Whale

Mr. Liable's tail

Atlantic Spotted Dolphins

Atlantic Spotted Dolphin
 Mr Liable in the afternoon

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