Monday, August 31, 2015

August 2015 sighting statistics

The month of August has been great for whale and dolphin watching off São Miguel Island. During this month we have encountered a grand total of 13 different species! The most encountered whale species was, as expected, our resident sperm whale. However, we were also surprised to see many fin whales which is not usual for this time of the year. Usually baleen whales like fin whales, blue whales and sei whales migrate through the Azores during the spring months. The summer is the best time for us to spot beaked whales and this past month we have encountered four different species: Sowerby's beaked whale, Blainville's beaked whale, Northern bottlenose whale and Cuvier's beaked whale. Of course dolphins were plentiful too. We encountered 7 different dolphin species, in order of most encountered: common dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, Atlantic spotted dolphin, Risso's dolphin, striped dolphin, false killer whale and pilot whale

As well as these cetacean encounters we also registered other species such as loggerhead turtles, leatherback turtles, sicklefin devil rays, flying fish and plenty of seabirds.


A little bit of luck needed

Today we were really trying hard to do our best and sometimes it works and other times not as well. Our morning was a true success as we started with a nice group of common dolphin and then we went on a search as our lookout didn't see any whales. We tried and were lucky as our captain of Cetus found a fin whale! In the afternoon we tried again but we did not have the same luck with the whales. We went really far off shore, further then normal to see sperm whales. As we finally arrived there were no whales to see. We waited for them a long time and as one boat got a glimpse of a sperm whale calf, at least we were in the right area. Eventually we had to give up. On the way back we briefly saw beaked whales, most likely Cuviers' beaked whales. But then the luck turned and we had two great encounters with common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins. A great thanks to all our clients and their patience today. 

Photos from the morning:

Common dolphin

Two common dolphins

Fin whale

Fin whale

Fin whale

Photos from the afternoon:

Bottlenose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins

Common dolphin

Common dolphin

Loggerhead turtle

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Fin whales are still around São Miguel

This morning we went out and encountered one of our well known groups of bottlenose dolphins, it was bubblemaker's group again, he is named after his habit to blow bubbles shortly before surfacing. We know him and his group for quit some time know and they are always very playful towards our boats. Shortly after we left the bottlenose dolphins we had the company of first 2 and a little later 3 fin whales, so amazing to see the second largest animal on earth up close.

In the afternoon we saw the same group of bottlenose dolphins as in the morning. Than we found a very playful pod of Atlantic spotted dolphins with 3 calves that were investigating our boat. We finished the day with the company of a group of common dolphins. It is always nice to see different types of dolphins and when they are in a playful mood it's even better.


Photos from the morning:

Bottlenose dolphins

Some familiar bottlenose dorsal fins - Bubblemaker's group

Fin whale blowholes

Fin whale


Photos from the afternoon:

Bottlenose dolphin

Swimming with Atlantic spotted dolphins

Atlantic spotted dolphins - juveniles with very few spots

An adult Atlantic spotted dolphin - you can see how this species gets it's name

Common dolphins wave surfing

Common dolphin calf surfacing next to its mother

Watching common dolphins

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A bit of everything today!

In the morning we went out and first had a quick encounter with a friendly group of Atlantic spotted dolphins, shortly after this we where with a family of sperm whale and we saw 5 family members spread out over the area. On our way back we stopped to enjoy the company of common dolphins and later we were surprised by a young fin whale which was close to the shore line of Ponta Delgada.
The afternoon was good for more surprises, first we saw the same fin whale as in the morning. A little bit later we saw a group of about 10 false killer whales together with common dolphins. We only have very few sightings of false killer whales each year so our customers and crew were very lucky today!

Photos from the morning:

Sperm whale

Common dolphin (show-off!)

Common dolphin

Fin whale

Photos from the afternoon:

Fin whale

Fin whale

Fin whale and our boat Song of Whales

Common dolphins and a false killer whale

False killer whale

Friday, August 28, 2015

Dolphins and a mysterious blow

Today we cancelled the morning as the sea was not good enough for a good tour but in the afternoon we tried our best. We encountered one large group of Atlantic spotted dolphins and one of bottlenose dolphins. We had a great time with them in the high waves. On our way back one of our biologists spotted a blow from a whale, most likely a humpback whale by the size and shape of the blow and the close distant to the shore. We waited and searched a while in the area but nothing surfaced in the waves. But still a great afternoon on the sea!

Photos from today:

Atlantic spotted dolphin

Atlantic spotted dolphins, baby with its mother

Bottlenose dolphin

Bottlenose dolphin

Watching bottlenose dolphins 



Our swimming boat

Our other whale watching boat "Song of Whales"

Monday, August 24, 2015

Another fin whale and Mr Liable returns

Today our catamaran clients in the morning had a nice start to their tour with an encounter with a fin whale. To be seeing fin whales so late in the summer probably means that they are on the return migration south to their breeding grounds in warmer waters. We never really stopped seeing fin whales since their north-bound migration to the cooler feeding grounds in the north, so we don't really know if these whales we have been seeing are late migrators, early returners or of they never really made the complete journey to the north and have found enough food in the Azores to sustain them throughout the summer. From one of our other boats some beaked whales were also seen in the morning and among all the boats we also registered encounters with common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins and Risso's dolphins.

In the afternoon we returned almost to the same area as the fin whale, but this time we received the information that there was a male sperm whale diving there. We didn't have to wait long before we spotted the whale at the surface and we could enjoy a full ten minutes with this large male before he went down on his next deep dive. We were almost sure of this whale's identity from seeing his dorsal fin and when he lifted he tail for the dive we could confirm that it was the famous Mr Liable. Mr Liable is the most encountered sperm whale off São Miguel Island and we have been seeing him every year and almost every month since at least 2006. He gets his name because he is very reliable in always returning to us, staying up a long time and showing us a beautiful high tail. As always, today he didn't dissapoint. We haven't seen Mr Liable for about 4 months, so it was great to see him back from wherever he has been. He sure has got big!


Photos from the morning:



Fin whale photos


Photos from the afternoon:

Mr Liable, the male sperm whale at the surface

Watching Mr Liable


Mr Liable's tail

Common dolphin

Common dolphin calf

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