Monday, July 31, 2017

July 2017 Sighting statistics

July is a great time to go whale and dolphin watching in the Azores (we only had to cancel due bad weather one day this whole month). At this time of the year the sea is mostly calm and very clear and hosts an abundance of whale and dolphin species. This year we still encountered some of the spring time migratory whales (fin whales and sei whales) during July, and at the end of the month we also registered our first Bryde's whales since 2013! The Bryde's whale is more of a tropical baleen whale that doesn't migrate to polar waters to spend the summer like most other baleen whales do. We are very lucky in the years that we get to see these rare Bryde's whales, when we have favourable conditions for them, as we do this summer. The summer months are also a great time to see our resident whale species, which is the sperm whale (the most encountered whale species at this time of the year). Of course we cannot forget the hundreds of dolphins that we have encountered during July - mostly Atlantic spotted dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins and Risso's dolphins, but also the occasional striped dolphins, pilot whales and false killer whales. As for more shy species, we have also registered a few beaked whales this month, including twice that we could identify the exact species (once Sowerby's beaked whales and another time Blainville's beaked whales). Our daily sightings statistics of cetaceans (whales and dolphins) show just how great July has been, and that isn't even taking into consideration other marine species we have also encountered, including loggerhead turtles and manta rays!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Another Bryde's whale encounter

We started the beautiful summers day with a Bryde's whale - the second of the year (the first was yesterday) and the first year since 2013 that we are encountering this rare species here. We had to go far to the east to encounter it, but it was well worth the scenic boat ride. We also enjoyed a huge group of curious Atlantic spotted dolphins this morning, another seasonal species that prefers warmer waters, just like the Bryde's whale. In the afternoon we were just as lucky with the Bryde's whale, so it seems that they are here a while to stay and take advantage of the plentiful supply of mackerel in our waters. In the area of one of the Bryde's whales we also came across an oceanic manta ray close to the surface, accompanied by several remora fish and pilot fish. The last treat for the day was a nice group of at least 100 common dolphins close to the shore.

Photos from the morning:

One of our boats with the Bryde's whale

Bryde's whale

Bryde's whale

Juvenile Atlantic spotted dolphin

A beautiful encounter with Atlantic spotted dolphins

Atlantic spotted dolphin

Manta birostris with pilot fish and two remora

Friday, July 28, 2017

A rare encounter with a Bryde's whale

Today we had a rare encounter with a Bryde's (pronounced broo-dess) whale off the south coast of São Miguel Island. This is considered to be more of a tropical whale species, one that only visits the Azores some years when we have their prefered conditions. The last year that we encountered them here was in 2013. But the Bryde's whale wasn't the only whale species that we encountered, as we also had many of our resident sperm whales around in the morning, including at least 3 small calves. We got to see several tails from the adult sperm whales in the group, which is be great for our photo-ID research. As for dolphins, there were a lot of them around today. During both the morning and afternoon we encountered large feeding groups of Atlantic spotted dolphins together with Cory's shearwaters. In the afternoon the feeding frenzy also included a group of common dolphins

Photos from today:

Bryde's whale head

Bryde's whale

Bryde's whale surfacing

Sperm whale with its characteristic angled blow

Sperm whale adult female and calf pair

Sperm whale tail

Atlantic spotted dolphin watching

Seeing the Atlantic spotted dolphin from aboard our catamaran

Atlantic spotted dolphins

Atlantic spotted dolhins and Cory's shearwaters feeding together

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Horrible weather but a great experience!

Today on the South Coast on São Miguel we had a rather difficult day as the weather conditions were very bad and misty, which meant that it was difficult for the Lookout to see Sperm Whales. Instead, we had a day dedicated to dolphins, as even the bad weather didn´t stop us from finding them! In the morning we saw Common Dolphins and Atlantic Spotted Dolphins. The Common Dolphin pod had lots of babies which was wonderful to see. They were very excited and curious, jumping lots and putting on an amazing (and very cute) show for the spectators. We also spent some time having a closer look at Vila Franca Islet, and had some fantastic views of many Cory´s Shearwaters taking flight. In the afternoon we saw more Common Dolphins and also Bottlenose Dolphins, on one of the zodiac boats even got a lucky encounter with Sperm Whales. The encounter with the Bottlenose Dolphins was incredible, with about 80 individuals in front of the boat! They were bowriding, jumping, leaping, riding the waves and generally creating an amazing exprience for all of us watching. Obviously the dolphins didn´t care about the bad weather today!

Photos from today:

Common Dolphin bowriding
Common Dolphin mother and calf wake riding in the distance
Adult Atlantic Spotted Dolphin

Swimming with 80 curious Bottlenose Dolphins around

Big flocks of Cory's Shearwaters taking off

Red Rock Crabs on the Islet Vila Franca do Campo

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A great summer with sperm whales and dolphins

So far we are having an excellent summer season with plenty of sightings of sperm whales and dolphins. It is difficult keeping track of all our statistics, since we are now also operating from the north coast and we are very successful in all of our tours. It's great to be able to show all our guests so many different dolphins and when we have been able to, also our resident sperm whales. Here are some example photos from today's tours off the south coast of the island, where we encountered common dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins throughout the day, sperm whales in the afternoon and also bottlenose dolphins in the morning. 

Photos from today:

Bottlenose dolphins

Common dolphin

Sperm whale adult and calf pair

Two adult sperm whales

Sperm whale

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sperm whales everywhere

It was an incredible day today! We had trips on the north and south coast and many species sighted. In the north the sea was like a mirror and it was not necessary to move far from the shore to see several Sperm Whales. We were still very lucky to see a rather rare species ... Beaked Whales. Common Dolphins have marked presence in all our trips. On the south coast, beyond the Common Dolphins, we also saw a Sperm Whale already well known here on our page ... Mr Liabe !!! In the morning he was really lazy. He did not want to show his tail, and it seemed that he wanted to slap the water with the tail ... but laziness won and he did not, but he ended up showing his tail very high. On our afternoon trip we see Mr Liable again, but with his normal behavior. After resting a little on the surface he dove raising its majestic tail.

Physeter macrocephalus | Sperm whale- Mr Liable blow

Physeter macrocephalus | Sperm whale

Physeter macrocephalus | Sperm whale- Mr Liable tale

Physeter macrocephalus | Sperm whale- Head

Delphinus delphis | Common dolphin

Beaked Whale- North Coast

Monday, July 24, 2017

Mr Liable again

During the last few weeks we have had many encounters with our most well known sperm whale here off São Miguel Island - a large male who we call "Mr Liable". He is always really great to watch as most of the time he is very predictable in his dive times, he spends a lot of time at the surface and almost always he shows us a great tail. Today was no exception. As usual, we also encountered many dolphins throughout the day. We were with our three most encountered species for this time of the year - Atlantic spotted dolphins, common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins. At this time of the year we also encounter a lot of loggerhead turtles at the surface, such as the one below that we photographed today:

Photos from today:

Mr Liable's tail

Atlantic spotted dolphins

Bottlenose dolphin

Bottlenose dolphin in a calm ocean

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Finally beaked whales!!

Today in São Miguel we were leaving the rain behind on land with a nice rainbow in sight and went out to see several dolphin species both morning and afternoon. Like common dolphins feeding with Cory's shearwater in the morning or being social and mating in the afternoon. Atlantic spotted dolphins travelling in the morning and being curious towards the small boats in the afternoon. The bottlenose dolphins were presenting a spectacular show in the morning and in the afternoon they were surfing and mating. In the afternoon the zodiacs were lucky to see the rare sighting of beaked whales. The sighting was so good that it was possible to identify the species as Blainville's beaked whale. Also a loggerhead turtle was giving everybody the chance to have a good look at it.

Photos from today:

Blainville's beaked whale with scars on its body

Beak of the beaked whale

Bottlenose dolphin putting on a show in liberty

Bottlenose dolphin leaping high

Atlantic spotted dolphin with calf

Adult Atlantic spotted dolphin
Common dolphin

Cory's shearwater with needle fish this morning 
Common dolphin with Cory's shearwaters

Two of our boats looking for the beaked whales

Loggerhead turtle at the surface

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