Saturday, November 18, 2017

Sei whales and a lot of dolphins

This morning we had another great whale and dolphin watching tour with sightings of 4 different cetacean species. We started with a surprise encounter with a couple of shy Risso's dolphins. We came across these resident dolphins by chance while we were travelling, not long after leaving the marina. These dolphins weren't so interested in us, so we continued our journey to an area where our lookout had seen some large whale blows. We didn't have to wait long to see two big sei whales - the third largest animal species in the world! They were travelling and surfacing frequently so that we could follow their footprints and see them well. Next we had Atlantic spotted dolphins to see. It was a very large and active group with a lot of small babies. It's nice to still have them in such large groups at this time of the year. Just when we thought we had seen it all we still had a really big group of bottlenose dolphins to see. There were many spread out over a large area and they seemed to be feeding. It was a nice way to end our tour before heading back to the marina with smiles on our faces.

Photos from today:

Sei whale surfacing

Sei whale dorsal

Sei whale

The face of a young Atlantic spotted dolphin

Two adult Atlantic spotted dolphins

A very active Atlantic spotted dolphin

Atlantic spotted dolphin - mother and calf

Bottlenose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphin ID photo - we can recognise each individual by their unique dorsal fin marks

Friday, November 17, 2017

Pilot whales and baleen whales!!

This morning the weather conditions were really good and soon we discovered that it was a good decision to try our luck today. After leaving the harbour our lookout spotted something that is not so common to see in this season of the year: pilot whales! Around 30 animals and even some calves! There was as also a big male (with a large dorsal fin!). It was a really good encounter and we were very lucky to see this species in the middle of November. After leaving the pilot whale area the lookout guided us to an area where he spotted some blows. When we arrived we spotted some blows, but when we were trying to approach the whale just dove. This happened several times but we managed to identify the species: sei whale! Lot's of footprints but just one blow when surfacing. When we finally decided to leave the area, suddenly two big blows! Two fin whales just appeared and we saw them before returned back to Ponta Delgada.

In the afternoon trip, the conditions were still very good and we quickly manage to saw a lone bottlenose dolphin which is not usual to see as they are very social animals. We also encountered pilot whales again in the afternoon, which may have been the same group that we saw in the morning, our photos will be able to tell us this later. The final surprise for the afternoon tour was a combination of Atlantic spotted dolphins and sei whales in the same area. There were also a lot of birds here and a lot of activity, so they were probably all feeding in this large area. Just like in the morning, some patience was needed to see the whales, but after a while we did get to see their blows and eventually also some of their bodies as they came to the surface. It was a real delight to see the active Atlantic spotted dolphins inbetween, while we were waiting for the 2 or 3 sei whales to surface.

Photos from the morning:

Pilot whales logging

Pilot whales surfacing. Notice the broad dorsal fin of the male

Pilot whales up close

Fin whale - this morning they were very difficult to watch so this is the best shot we got!

A client's review about today's morning trip

Photos from the afternoon:

Solitary bottlenose dolphin

Bottlenose dolphin face

Pilot whales

Pilot whales

2 male pilot whales, recognisable by their wide dorsal fins

Atlantic spotted dolphins

Watching Atlantic spotted dolphins from the bow of our catamaran

The distinct pointy fin of a sei whale

Sei whale

Sei whale blow in the beautiful soft light at the end of the afternoon

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A shy fin whale and playful dolphins

Today the sun is shinning strong here in São Miguel and we enjoyed the morning of this perfect day out on the ocean on our catamaran. It didn't take long before we came across our first dolphins of the tour - a small but curious group of common dolphins that were playing around the front of our boat. After enjoying their company for a while we continued further to watch a larger group of bottlenose dolphins. There were many of them, very spread out so that everywhere we looked we could see their splashes. Not long after arriving our captain spotted a larger spash, which turned out to be a whale! It was an exciting moment as we didn't know this whale was in the area of the dolphins. It was a young fin whale that we could see up for a few breaths, then it went down and left a trail of footprints at the surface. We waited and waited for the whale to return to the surface but it disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. Nevertheless we enjoyed groups of bottlenose dolphins spread out for a bit longer before heading back to land at the end of the morning. 

Photos from today:

A beautiful morning out on our catamaran

Common dolphin

Common dolphin

Bottlenose dolphin

Bottlenose dolphin

Fin whale back

Fin whale dorsal fin

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ocean hazards!

     This afternoon, after a day of unfavorable sea conditions, we went to the sea. First we encountered a group of bottlenose dolphins, a little spread out and, a little later, a group of Risso's dolphins, very sociable and active on the surface and... full of juveniles!
    During our trip we collected a large fishing net called "ghost net". It's always important to note that objects such as this, or even various types of plastic (bags, straws, bottles, balloons), glass or metals, collected during several of our trips, are a major threat in biodiversity and on our oceans.
    Every year, 640,000 tonnes of fishing nets are discarded or lost in the sea, with devastating impacts to marine life, as they can last 600 years in the ocean. It's estimated that these "ghost nets" capture and kill 136,000 seals, sea lions, turtles and large whales every year. It is also estimated that about 8 million garbage items are dumped into the oceans and seas every day and more than 13,000 plastic objects are in every square kilometer of ocean.
     Nowadays these estimates are alarming and it's essential to take care of our oceans, which harbor an enormous diversity of species, but also of our the planet Earth. We can help, by recycling and reducing the use of plastic products, for example.

Risso's dolphin

 Playful dolphins

"Ghost net"

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Salty trip ;)

We started our adventurous trip with some waves and some wind but you can’t forget that this is the North Atlantic Ocean. The animals don’t seem to bother with the weather, the dolphins that we saw in the beginning were surfing the waves the entire time… oh yeah! We continue our trip and we could see around four sperm whales! After some shallow dives and some waiting time (the parts that the documentaries don’t show us, in real life we need be awake to see these wonderful animals) one of them finally show us the tail to say “Goodbye …I’m going for brunch …yammi squids!” Finally we came back to Ponta Delgada with a smile in our face.

Sperm Whale

Sperm Whale

Friday, November 10, 2017

Riding the waves with dolphins

This morning we went out for a fun ride on the waves aboard our catamaran Cetus. We had two great encounters with our resident common dolphins. Both groups were very active - the first group was travelling, often leaping out of the waves together in large groups while the second group was actively feeding at the surface, together with a lot of Cory's shearwaters. We even managed to spot a juvenile bottlenose dolphin together with the first group of common dolphins. It was a fun morning on the ocean with the dolphins and some nice views of the island with several rainbows along the way.

Photos from today:

Can you spot the bottlenose dolphin among the common dolphins?

Cory's shearwater coming in to land

Common Dolphin

Common Dolphins

Common Dolphin

Cory's shearwater

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Another morning with our most well-known whale

This morning we went out whale watching on our catamaran and we were very happy to a large male sperm whale. He is one that we know very well, as we have been seeing him regularly here off Sâo Miguel Island since at least 2004. We call him "Mr Liable", coming from the word reliable, because we can always count on him to show up here and he almost always shows us a great tail. Today he didn't disappoint us with his beautiful tail, just like yesterday and the two other days we saw him last week. It's a perfect postcard-moment when we get to see Mr Liable's tail.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Say whale! (sei whale)

The day started with a pretty amazing sighting, we saw a sei whale from a very close distance! The sei whale is the third biggest baleen whale that is migrating around the Azores. We also had a close look at a loggerhead turtle that was swimming next to the boat! The sea during the afternoon tour was very calm which gaves us the opportunity to make some nice pictures of the two species that we saw! The first sigthing was our famous star; Mr. Liable, the male sperm whale that we see often around here. Afterwards we saw a playfull group of common dolphins around the boat. A very succesfull and joyfull day here in Sao Miguel!

Photos from today:

Sei whale

Loggerhead turtle

Sperm whale being followed by a gull

The famous sperm whale "Mr Liable"

Mr Liable diving

Common dolphins

Watching common dolphins

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