Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sperm whales today!

At this time of the year we often see more baleen whales than sperm whales, but they are always around and this morning we spotted them. They were feeding and showed us two tails! During the morning tour we also found a pod of common dolphins quite active. In the afternoon we sighted a shy group of Risso's dolphins, the third resident species in the day, but it was quick because our lookout had something else to see ... fin whales!

Photos from today:

One of the sperm whales tails this morning

Look at the rough back and dorsal fin of the sperm whale

Sperm whale about to go for a deep dive

Another fluke of sperm whale
Physeter macrocephalus | Sperm whale

Delphinus delphis | Common dolphin

Delphinus delphis | Common dolphin

Balaenoptera physalus | Fin whale
Balaenoptera physalus | Fin whale with a Cory's shearwater

Friday, May 26, 2017

Curious fin whales and dolphins

It's been another fine morning out on the ocean, encountering the second largest animals in the world - fin whales. Today there were three fin whales travelling together, spending a lot of time at the surface so that we could see them very well. They were a bit playful, sometimes rolling over on their sides and at one time we even saw the white belly of one of them very well. They were very curious, coming to check out our different boats. The dolphins were just as playful and curious, as they often are. We had a large group of common dolphins spread out over a large area and they seemed to enjoy our company as much as we were enjoying theirs. We especially enjoyed seeing the small baby dolphins playing around in the waves. 

Photos from today:

One of the fin whales with our zodiac boat

Fin whale

Fin whale

Fin whale blow

Seeing a fin whale from aboard our catamaran

Fin whale rolling over, showing its white belly

Two fin whales side by side

A playful common dolphin

Common dolphins

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Friendly fin whales, calm blue whale and acrobatic bottlenose dolphins!

Today we had an amazing day full of whales. In our morning tour we saw a total of four different species. At first we had the indication of a big baleen whale, 6 miles south from Ponta Delgada, the blow was very big and tall so we suspect it was a blue whale; and we were right! A Blue whale was there, traveling very calm and doing very short dives; after that we went to see some fin whales; in our way some of the zodiac boats got the chance to spot a very big group of bottlenose dolphins; this ones were not a know family buy us; they were very playful, jumping and approaching our boat all the time. After, we went to see some fin whales; they approach the boats a lot; it passed even under one of our boats!
Our catamaran didn’t see the dolphins in the morning but found a nice group of common dolphins.
In the afternoon, there was no blue whale anymore but the sea was full of fin whales, we also saw another group of bottlenose dolphins, curiously this were two different families that we know very well; the Bubblemaker and the Egipcio’s. These groups normally are separate, but yesterday they were all together and curiously, very close to the shore. We had to be very careful we the boats as they were so close to the rocks!

Bottlenose dolphins were very active and acrobatic, jumping and playing a lot

Another dolphin jumping

Surfacing dolphin

In the group of dolphins we could fine al sizes and ages

In here we can see a Fin whale surfacing by its lef side, notice that is much darker

The giant blowholes of the Fin whale

The same Fin whale seen by the right side, in this case we can see lighter coloration (white color in the mouth)

Here we can see the blue whale, it was very calm and slowly traveling

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Fin whales continue to dominate

Again today we encountered fin whales, brining us closer to a record of encountering this species during every single tour this month of May. Throughout the day we had several different individuals around, so that our different boats could spread out and encounter different individuals. In the afternoon we had to be a bit more patient before seeing one, but in the end we had a nice encounter with a juvenile fin whale that was always travelling close to the surface, so we could see it just under water. As for dolphins, we had a very social group of bottlenose dolphins in the afternoon, and our swimmers could enjoy some nice underwater encounters with common dolphins in the morning.

Photos from the morning:

Fin whale close to our zodiac

 Two fin whales surfacing

One of the fin whales about to surface

Photos from the afternoon:

Bottlenose dolphin face

Bottlenose dolphins

A bottlenose dolphin surfacing high

The small blow of a juvenile fin whale

Fin whale head

Fin whale curving its back to dive

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

One more day of fin whales and dolphins

Today, due to the weather conditions we went to the sea just in the morning. The sea was wavy today as we had wind from the south but once again we manage to see whales and dolphins.

We started the tour with the sighting of different fin whales. The animals were with feeding behaviour, that means that they spend just a few minutes at the surface  before diving again searching for food. They were four different whales in the area, all of them with the same behaviour. It wasn't easy to see them because of the wavy sea and the behaviour of the animals but we know that we are working with wild animals and it is needed to be pacients sometimes.

In the same area of the fin whales there was a small pod of bottlenose dolphins that were really close to the whales. Is not uncommon to see different species of cetaceans in the same area, sometimes they even interact with each other. In this case seemed that the dolphins were playing with the waves that the whales were making while travelling.

At this time of the year during our tours our clients have the opportunity to see a really special creature: Portuguese Man-of-War (Physalia physalis). Some people confuse them with jellyfish because they look alike but they are not. Portuguese Man of War is a siphonophore and is not just one animal but a colony of organisms called polyps. This polyps have four different funtions: reproduction, feeding, navigation and defense. The part of the colony that we can see from the surface is the pneumatophore, a sail shaped structure filled with gas. 

The other part of the colony is below the surface, long tentacles that contain stinging nematocysts, microscopic capsules loaded with coiled, barbed tubes that deliver venom capable of paralyzing and killing small fish and crustaceans. They have just a few predators, one of them is the loggerhead turtle that it is inmune to the venomous tentacles. This species of turtle is the most common one around the Azores and at this time of the year we can say that they are having a feast in our waters! 

Photos from today:

Fin whale blow

Fin whale

A wild fin whale encounter aboard our zodiac boat

Bottlenose dolphin (left side) and fin whale (right side)

Bottlenose dolphin

Monday, May 22, 2017

Whales and dolphins in the mist

Today the weather conditions were not the best ones as we had a dense mist. We usually find the animals with the help of our lookouts but today it was impossible for them to their job... the mist was so dense that they couldn't see the animals from the coast. 

Even with these conditions we were able to find the animals from our boats! we were lucky enough to see different fin whales and common dolphins in our tours. The dolphins in the morning were travelling fast, they were followed by groups of birds (mostly Cory's shearwaters) they were probably searching for food.

The fin whales we encountered were calm, surfacing several times, something that our clients really enjoyed!

Photos from today:

Fin whale surfacing

Common dolphin 

Fin whale surfacing

One of our zodiac boats

Two common dolphins swimming together

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The month of the fin whales

This morning we went out on the ocean and again encountered the second largest animal in the world - the fin whale! So far this month we have seen this species on every one of our tours, so a 100% success rate of seeing fin whales. It's a privelege to see so many of these impressive whales here at this time of the year, and we can see that they have been staying around and feeding recently, because we have seen them pooing, as we witnessed on this morning's tour. Now that it's warming up we are also seeing more dolphins on our tours, especially large feeding groups as we saw with common dolphins and Cory's shearwaters this morning. We encountered different groups of these resident common dolphins, always with some newborn babies among them. Now in the afternoon we can enjoy the sunshine on land and the Santo Cristo procession in Ponta Delgada (check out our video HERE).

Photos from this morning:

Common dolphin

Common dolphin newborn calf surfacing alongside its mother

An unusually dark-coloured common dolphin (lacking the usual yellow colour on its sides)

fin whale blow

Fin whale surfacing

Fin whale dorsal

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