Tuesday, October 31, 2017

October 2017 sighting statistics

Another month has come to an end, so we have our new sighting statistics for the month in, and it's been a great month for whale and dolphin watching off São Miguel Island in the Azores. During October we encountered a total of 11 different cetacean species (5 whale species and 6 dolphin species). This year it seemed like a never ending summer, as great weather conditions and sightings more typical of mid-summer continued right until the end of the month. We've been seeing more sperm whales than usual, as well as big feeding groups of Atlantic spotted dolphins which are very typical of the warmer months in the Azores. We even had a day with Bryde's whales, which to our surprise turned out to be the mother and calf pair that we have been watching the whole summer. Another great surprise was a tour with two blue whales that were travelling at great speed and coming high out of the water. Every tour brings us a new surprise, we really never know what we will see!

Mr Liable with a new female sperm whale

Our well known male sperm whale "Mr Liable" was back off São Miguel Island today. This time we saw him with a new female, one that we did not have in our photographic catalogue yet, so she will be a new addition. During our morning tour we had a really great and lucky moment - we saw the tails of the two sperm whales at the same time. It's not often that it happens like this! We even had time to see them twice, as we returned to see the same pair 45 minutes later when they returned from their deep dive. In between our sperm whale encounters we also had time to encounter two of our resident dolphin species: common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins. It was a very complete morning with our whales and dolphins.

Photos from today:

One of our zodiac boats with the two sperm whales

Mr Liable (left side) with a female sperm whale (right side)

Going on a deep dive

Bottlenose dolphin

Monday, October 30, 2017

Calm sperm whales in a flat ocean

Today was a very calm day, bringing us back to the summer. These are the best days to be out on the ocean, as the water is like a mirror and its great for seeing the animals. On this nice day we had sperm whales to the east, so we got to see them during both our tours today. We could see several different whales, including calves that were coming and going to the surface. In the afternoon we could even see 3 different tails! As for dolphins, we encountered common dolphins in the morning and Atlantic spotted dolphins in the afternoon. To top it off, we watched a nice loggerhead turtle in the afternoon before returning to the sunset in Ponta Delgada to end the day well.

Photos of the sperm whales from today:

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A fun morning with dolphins

Today we were back out on the water! The sea was nice and the sun was out so we could enjoy the ride out there, and of course the cetaceans. We started the morning with a small but friendly group of common dolphins. After spending a bit of time with them we went further out in search of a whale that one of our lookouts had seen. We didn't find the whale, but we did find a nice group of dolphins. At first we could see a few Atlantic spotted dolphins, then we noticed the majority of the dolphins were actually striped dolphins, so we spent the rest of the adrenaline-filled encounter with these acrobats. We all enjoyed seeing the striped dolphins leaping out of the waves in a large group. What a morning!

Photos from today:

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Our most well-known sperm whale family

Today was another sperm whale day in São Miguel, Azores. We had our well known family group that we refer to as the "red group" not far from the coastline. In the morning we encountered at least 3 adults and a calf (the same curious calf that approached our boats last week). Among these adults we could identify individuals we call "Bear paw" and "Orca". In the afternoon we encountered the same group, but this time 3 different individuals from this large family group. In the afternoon we identified individuals we call "Diamond", "Small u" and "Marble". As for dolphins, we also encountered some common dolphins in the morning and our swimming clients could enjoy them underwater.

 Photos from the morning:

Sperm whale approaching our boat

The three sperm whales (two adult females and a baby) that we have been seen during last week

Female sperm whale tail
Common dolphins

 Photos from the afternoon:

A juvenile sperm whale we call "Diamond"

An adult female sperm whale we call "Marble"

An adult female sperm whale we call "Marble"

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A morning with our resident sperm whales and dolphins

This morning the sea had calmed down enough for us to go out whale and dolphin watching and luck was on our side. Between our different boats that went out we encountered three of our resident species. We started with two resident dolphin species: common dolphins were seen from our first boats that went out, while or second catamaran came across a small group of Risso's dolphins. Next we encountered sperm whales, which are also resident in the Azores. There were several sperm whales around, and it turned out to be the same very curious group that we encountered last week. Just like last week we encountered a young calf in this group, and towards the end of the encounter this young one became a bit curious towards our boat. We ended our sperm whale sightings nicely by seeing the tail of an adult, an individual who we call "Left tip".

Photos from today:

An adult sperm whale we call "Left tip" close to São Miguel Island

"Left tip" the sperm whale with two common terns flying overhead

The final moment - "Left tip" the sperm whale showing us her tail

Today the Risso's dolphins were difficult to photograph so one fin tip is all we managed

Friday, October 13, 2017

Last day before 'Ophelia'

Today was our last day out on the ocean before we expect tropical storm "Ofelia" to arrive tonight. We started the morning with a nice group of common dolphins that were keenly bowriding in front of our boats. Next we searched further out to try to find whales, but even though we didn't find them we did encounter a large group of Atlantic spotted dolphins. They were very active with lots of high jumps and also a lot of seabirds around, indicating they were most likely feeding.

In the afternoon we returned to the sea, starting again with our friendly common dolphins. Again they did not disappoint us and we got to see them very well, with a lot of social behaviours. Next we went a bit further to a large group of bottlenose dolphins that were going on dives, probably in search of food. We had a nice look at these dolphins before going inshore to enjoy the views of the coastline, including Vila Franca Islet.

Some photos of the morning tour:

Some of our curious common dolphins:

Swimming very close to the rubber boat

 -Atlantic spotted dolphins are still around:

Photos from the afternoon:

 Bottlenose dolphins

The last day of good weather for a while, enjoying the views of Vila Franca islet

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Sperm whale breaching again

The great weather is still in the Azores, and we are making the most of it by going out on the ocean morning and afternoon to enjoy some of the different types of marine life that we have out there. In the morning we encountered two different dolphin species: common dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins. It was great to see them playing around the boat, surfing the waves and sometimes looking back at us. We could also hear their whistles very clearly as they were coming close to our boat. 

In the afternoon we travel further away to the west to meet a family of sperm whales. There were several ones around, socializing, some very curious passing close to the boat and even breaching! On our way to the whales we found as well a small hammerhead shark quite close to the shore.

Photos from today:

Sperm whale breaching this afternoon

Sperm whale with a white patch close to the dorsal fin

Blowhole of a sperm whale on the left side of its head

Cory's shearwater

This afternoon we had a group of students coming from France.
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