Friday, May 31, 2019

Close encounter with a male’s pod of Rissos’s dolphins in Pico island

Today we had a close encounter with a male’s pod of Rissos’s dolphins. In the meanwhile, they were socializing, with belly rolling’s and flukes up, they were getting more and more used to our boat. As we were navigating slowly by their side, they were getting closer and closer!

Rissos dolphins are typically shy and tend to maintain their space towards the boat. This species segregate through gender, so as they became independent from their mothers, the males will leave their natal group to join a male’s group while the females move in the same pod together with their calves. If you notice, some of the individuals from the pictures are almost all white. The density of white scars its greater on males, as you can notice on  some of the animals from the pod we were seeing today.

Also we had the best day to watch flying fishes, jumping and soaring above the surface as we were scaring them with our beautiful zodiac passing by!

Sperm whales and uncommon dolphins in São Miguel

Summer days keep on coming! The sea was really calm today and this sunny morning started with a playful pod of common dolphins

They enjoyed bowriding and jumping around our boats. We usually see a large number of calves in summer because the water temperature helps them survive. We have been seeing lots of calves and some new-borns dolphins these weeks, so it means that love is in the sea. 

Suddenly, we were informed by our lookouts that a big male sperm whale came to the surface so we headed to that direction. The male was tail slapping a couple of times! 

This way, we could confirm that it was a male that we have seen here quite frequently, his name is Mr. Liable! One of the few males that we see here in the Azores. Most of the sperm whales seen here are females with juveniles and/or calves as they prefer warmer waters. The adults males are solitary and tend to travel to colder waters.

Then we ended the trip with some Risso's dolphins  They were near the fishing boats, and often they steal the fish and squids from the fishermen. The Risso´s dolphins were quite playful today and actually approaching the boats, which is not a typical behaviour seen here in the area.

In the afternoon, we returned to the ocean and Mr Liable was still out there. We started the tour with a nice encounter with him. We didn't have to wait long after we arrived to the area where he was diving, and he was already up at the surface. He showed us his beautiful big tail, which was followed by a short trip to some female sperm whales that were also in the area. 

First we encountered a female we call Penakabe, and next to another female from the same family of sperm whales. It's a family we saw a lot last week, so it seems they are here to stay for a while. 

Another cue of foraging whales!! Of course, when sperm whales eat around this area, they need to digest the food, and therefore here you have sperm whale faeces on the surface while fluking for another foraging dive!

Closer inshore, we encountered the same two resident dolphin species from the morning. The common dolphins were very playful around the boat and we got to see them well through the clear water. 

The Risso's dolphins were very calm and there were several babies in their group. One of the babies was a young newborn that still had fetal folds (vertical lines on the skin from being in the uterus recently). It was really nice to see the contrast in colour between the white adult Risso's dolphins and their dark calves.

One very interesting event was a white common dolphin, not so common! ;)

 As a responsible tour operator, we also got to take some litter that we found out from the ocean:

Some leftover from the sperm whales

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Several sperm whales’ tails and lots of dolphins in São Miguel

We are finishing the month of May in the best way! 

This morning we were able to observe two of our four resident species. We started the day with our sperm whales, the same group we have seen in recent days, a mother with the white head and her baby. 

Soon after diving, a very nice group of common dolphins appeared. These were very active and we had a good time with them. 

Then we saw more sperm whales through their blows. Did you know that the sperm whales blowhole is on the left side of their head? So we can distinguish the species through their blow because it is directed to the left. We were in an area surrounded by sperm whales, and we saw several tails!

And on the afternoon, common dolphins as well, some with Cory's shearwaters around, and even a school of fish! 

Then we head out further from the coast to see again the same family of sperm whales. We managed to see a lot of tails during the day today. It's a pity that not all of them are useful for photo-ID as we saw them from the side. However, we still have some good ones to continue with the identification!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

A day full of surprises with sperm whales and a humpback whale

Today we had a nice surprise not too far from the coast! We had a sighting of some sperm whales, but they are usually found in deeper waters than what we saw today! Our lookout had found them right in front of Ponta Delgada, approximately 8 miles from the coast, where the water is around 200m deep. 

We had a mother and calf/juvenile, some more females, and most likely a male too. They were foraging, so that meant that they were diving a lot, which resulted in seeing lots of flukes of the sperm whales! 

We also tried the hydrophone in one of our boats and they were echolocating! 

One of our boats even saw a humpback whale in another area. 

In the afternoon trip, we managed to find sperm whales again, after waiting quite some time before they resurfaced. We saw 3 sperm whales. 

On the way to another area we saw a few common dolphins as well but they were quite shy. All in all another great day!

Today we also had a special little guest, Daniel, a Portuguese living in Italy. He had a homework about sea turtles in english for school. We think he learned a lot from our trip!

And today was also a very special day for two of our guests, just look at this video to know what happened:

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