Friday, July 31, 2015

July 2015 sighting statistics

This past month has been great for whale and dolphin watching off São Miguel Island in the Azores. We are well into the summer season now so during every tour we have always seen a huge diversity of marine life. In total we registered encounters with 9 different whale and dolphin species. Our resident whale species, the sperm whale, was expectedly the most encountered whale species, but we also still had a few fin whales migrating past which is very late in the year for this species. Common dolphins were encountered every day that we went out and we also encountered a lot of bottlenose dolphins, mostly our resident groups with individuals that we know very well. Other species we encountered were Atlantic spotted dolphins, striped dolphins, Risso's dolphins, pilot whales and false killer whales. As for other species we have seen plenty of loggerhead turtles, flying fish, some ocean sunfish and a devil ray. Also, we have seen an unusually high number of leatherback turtles during July. Seabirds were also sighted during all tours and we saw the arrival of the migratory great shearwaters much earlier than usual this year. 


Four dolphin species


Today was full of dolphin encounters. In the morning we encountered four different species. Bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins and Risso's dolphins and in the afternoon we re-encountered the same ones except for the Risso's dolphins who tend to be a bit more shy. As usual for this time of th eyear we also spotted many baby dolphins, including some tiny newborns that put a smile on everyone's faces. As a bonus, from our catamaran in the morning we saw a leatherback turtle and also plenty of loggerhead turtles


Photos from today:

Atlantic spotted Dolphin 
Atlantic spotted Dolphin calf 
Atlantic spotted dolphin 

Bottlenose dolphin

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A newborn baby sperm whale

Today we had a familiar group of sperm whales off the south coast of São Miguel Island. In the morning from aboard our other catamaran Quatro ventos we encountered several individuals and ended our sperm whale encounters nicely with an adult we call "Bear paw" that was together with a juvenile. From aboard one of our zodiac boats they had a really lucky up close encounter with some curious sperm whales of this group. Several whales approached their boat very close and the biologist aboard was able to put a camera into the water to get some really amazing up close underwater footage (to see it click HERE). As for dolphins we encountered small groups of bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins to complete the tour.

In the afternoon it was the catamaran's clients turn to see the baby sperm whale. We were in the sperm whale area and had already seen several whales and were waiting to see if another one would surface. We were suddenly surpised by someting small coming up right in front of our bow. At first the biologists thought it was a bottlenose dolphin coming to bowride because it was so small! It must have been the same baby from the morning because it was the same family group of sperm whales that includes "Bear paw", who we saw in the morning, and also other familiar whales such as "Left tip" and "Orca". In the afternoon we also encountered plenty of dolphins: common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins and Risso's dolphins.


Photos from the morning:

Two sperm whales side by side

Bottlenose dolphin


Enjoying the ride aboard Quatro ventos


Photos from the afternoon:

Risso's dolphin

A distant sperm whale fluke

A second sperm whale


Common dolphin leaping next to the boat

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A whale day

This morning we went out whale watching in our other catamaran Quatro ventos as well as our smaller boats. We stared with a group of bottlenose dolphins near Ponta Delgada but the group was small and not easy to watch, so we continued further because we already knew that our lookout had spotted sperm whales for us further to the east. Not long after arriving to the area we saw the first blow. In the end we encountered 2 adults followed by an adult and calf pair. On the way back we passed by a few common dolphins, but this time it was really the whales that made tour.

Photos from today:

Female and calf

Female and calf

Adult fluking

Bulwer's petrel


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Delightful dolphins

Today we enjoyed some lovely encounters with some of the dolphins of the Azores. Throughout the day we had our swimming boat with bottlenose dolphins, giving our swimming clients some great looks at the dolphins underwater in their natural suroundings. We also had some common dolphins around, a small group in the morning and a larger group foraging in the afternoon. The group in the afternoon was seen with several seabirds, mostly Cory's shearwaters and common terns, but also a more rare juvenile northern gannet. Some people on our zodiac boat in the morning also got to see some Atlantic spotted dolphins. The sun was out and the dolphins were playful and friendly so it was a great day for all.

Photos from the morning:

Bottlenose dolphin

Bottlenose dolphin

The bottlenose dolphin "Bubblemaker"

Swimming with the bottlenose dolphins

Not far from Ponta Delgada!


Photos from the afternoon:

Bottlenose dolphin

Baby bottlenose dolphin

Bottlenose dolphins

Common dolphin

Cory's shearwaters

Juvenile northern gannet

Monday, July 27, 2015

Resident, migratory and seasonal

What a day, six species in total. We had all our four resident species in the morning. We started with some common dolphins along side our boat as we traveled to see a male sperm whale. It took some time and patience to see this majestic male but finally we got a great tail. After this wonderful sight we had a group of Risso's dolphins with new born babies. Today they were calm and curious and playing close to our catamaran and some of the babies were spyhopping and looking at us. Some boats also encountered bottlenose dolphins. In the afternoon we started with our resident bottlenose dolphins but soon we took of to see a baleen whale. Normally we see them in spring time as they migrate but they have been late this year. It was lovely to see this fin whale now in summer. And we ended the tour with our seasonal Atlantic spotted dolphins. During the day we also sighted loggerhead turtles, leatherback turtle, flying fish and Bulwer's petrels.

Photos from the morning:


Sperm whale

The sperm whale diving


Risso's dolphin

Photos from the afternoon:

Atlantic spotted dolphin
Atlantic spotted dolphin jumping
Bottlenose dolphin

Fin whale

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Starting with dolphins and ending with whales

Today we started the morning tour with a group of about 30 common dolphins which we enjoyed for a while before heading a bit further out for a much larger group of bottlenose dolphins. These bottlenose dolphins were the highlight of the morning tour as it was a group of about 60 of them tightly packed together and being very social. We got to see some incredible jumps from this powerful animals and for sure our swimming clients had some great underwater encounters with them.

In the afternoon we had common dolphins again and a smaller group of bottlenose dolphins. We spent some time with them until we got the call on the radio that a whale blow had been spotted. We got to the area and after a bit of waiting we saw a shadow just beneath the surface. We tracked it for a while not knowing for sure what type of whale it was until it suddenly surfaced. It was a sperm whale and there were more than just this one in the area. These whales weren't coming up much and didn't show any tails, but we were just happy to be able to see them.


Photos from the morning:



Common dolphin mother and baby





Photos from the afternoon:









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