Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August 2016 sighting statistics

August came and went very quickly this year. It has been a very busy month for us, as the summer has been in general. This month the spectacular weather allowed us to go out on the ocean all but one day of the month. During every day and every tour we had some amazing cetacean encounters. During the whole month we encountered a total of 9 different dolphin and whale species (see this list and daily statistics below). As well as whales and dolphins, during August we also had encounters with loggerhead turtles, a leatherback turtle, manta rays, devil rays, a hammerhead shark, yellowfin tuna, plenty of flying fish and also some flying squid.




Fin whales stayed around and lots of dolphins

It's been another fantastic day out on the ocean, starting with common dolphins and a beautiful group of Risso's dolphins in the morning and ending the afternoon with a fin whale. We usually see fin whales for a few months during the spring, but this year we never really stopped seeing them. We don't know if they are late migrating to the north, early migrating to the south or simply staying to enjoy an Azorean summer with us. We also enjoyed the company of curious common dolphins in the afternoon. Just like yesterday, we encountered a total of 6 different species when we put together all sightings from our different boats throughout the day: the fin whale, common dolphins, Risso's dolphins, striped dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins.


Photos from today:

An adult Risso's dolphin

A juvenile Risso's dolphin

Risso's dolphin going on a dive

A Risso's dolphin spyhopping

A worrying sight - A Risso's dolphin with plastic on its tail


Common dolphin mother and baby

Common dolphin

Fin whale from the afternoon tour

Fin whale from the afternoon tour

Fin whale from the afternoon tour

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A fin whale surprise and a total of 6 species

Today we started out with dolphins, different species in different areas. We had Atlantic spotted dolphins and then a big group of bottlenose dolphins spread over a large area. From one of our boats a group of Risso's dolphins were also seen, as well as some common dolphins. The dolphins were just as nice in the afternoon, especially the Atlantic spotted dolphins who were very playful around our boats. However, the highlight of the day was on our way back when the captain of our catamaran suddenly spotted the blow of a type of baleen whale. It was a fin whale, a great surprise for this time of the year. It's always fantastic to see the second largest animal in the world. From our zodiac boat some Blainville's beaked whales were also glimpsed at the surface, giving us a grand total of 6 species during the day!


Photos from the morning:


Risso's dolphin

Bottlenose dolphin

Atlantic spotted dolphins (mums and babies)

Dolphin watching aboard our catamaran

An Atlantic spotted dolphin with a cut dorsal fin


Atlantic spotted dolphins love to leap!



Photos from the afternoon:


Fin whale surfacing


Atlantic spotted dolphin

Atlantic spotted dolphin

Monday, August 29, 2016

Dolphins and pilot whales

It's another perfect calm and blue summer day in São Miguel, perfect for going out on the water to see the cetaceans of the Azores. We started out the morning with plenty of dolphins for all to see. Some of our boats went to one area to see a group of Atlantic spotted dolphins, while our catamaran went to an area of some Risso's dolphins. We ended up having a very nice encounter with 6 adult Risso's dolphins that were travelling together. We also had a nice group of common dolphins to see and they were great to watch as they were very calm and curious, approaching our boat so we could see them perfectly through the crystal clear water. In the afternoon we started with common dolphins again, but soon received the news that our lookouts had spotted a group of pilot whales further to the east. It turned out to be a big group, with many females and babies in the pod. It was nice to see them, as we haven't encountered them a lot this year. We ended the afternoon nicely with a social and curious group of our resident bottlenose dolphins. 


Photos from the morning:

Risso's dolphins

Watching the Risso's dolphins

Risso's dolphins

Watching the Risso's dolphins

Face to face with a common dolphin

Watching common dolphins

Common dolphin



Photos from the afternoon:

Watching common dolphins

Watching common dolphins

A pilot whale mother with its newborn calf

Pilot whales

Pilot whales

Pilot whale surfacing to breathe

One of our boats with bottlenose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins leaping after us as we leave

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Blue ocean with many dolphins

We had one more day today with really good visibility, the ocean was with a beautiful blue color.

In the morning the whale watching boats encountered two species of dolphins: spotted and striped dolphins. In the different groups of spotted dolphins that we found during the tour we could see many babies and juveniles… there is a baby boom in summer time! The spotted dolphins were really curious approaching to the boat many times. The behavior of the striped dolphin was completely different, they kept the distance with the boat, travelling fast and leaping out of the water many times.
The swimming boat could also see bottlenose and common dolphin, our resident species.

In the afternoon we started with bottlenose dolphins, it was a large group of friendly animals. After this sighting we went to the West and we tried our luck. The look out saw a "big splash" so we went to the area. After being waiting for a while some people could see two animals from the distance, they were beaked whales. We saw them for just a few seconds and we couldn’t see them anymore.  We were really patients trying to find the animal from the “big splash” but we were no lucky this time… nature is not always easy! 

Photos from today:


Atlantic spotted dolphin next to our boat

Dolphin watching

Adult spotted dolphin

Mom and baby spotted dolphin

Striped dolphins jumping

Saturday, August 27, 2016

A big group of sperm whales

Today we encountered a big group of sperm whales. We encountered them first in the morning, and again during the afternoon tour. We also had a late afternoon tour, so again we went for the group of sperm whales to the east of the island. They were far, but it was well worth it. After some time with them they grouped up together so that we could count 9 adults and one newborn calf all together at the surface. It was a real magical moment watching these whales in the late afternoon sunshine.


Photos from the late afternoon tour:





Friday, August 26, 2016

A calm summer day with whales and dolphins

Today was a hot sunny day with a very calm ocean, perhaps the best day we have had so far this year. It was great for being out on the ocean, watching the whales and dolphins of the Azores. During our tours we encountered our resident whale species, the sperm whale, as well as two resident dolphin species: common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins (the famous group of Bubblemaker that we have been seeing here since at least 2006). In the morning we encountered first one big sperm whale that kept going under and popping up, but eventually after waiting a second and then a third whale surfaced, so we ended up with the three together at the surface with our catamaran. In the afternoon when we arrived to the whale area two adults came up together at the same time but in different places, so our zodiac went to one and our catamaran the other, which turned out to be Sussi, a whale we know since 2012 and have been seeing a lot during the past week. Sussi gave us a beautiful tail, as she usually does. During the past week we have been seeing Sussi with a calf and again today after she fluked we spotted the calf a few hundred metres away. We left the calf in peace, returning to shore to finish this beautiful day with the dolphins close to shore.


Photos from the morning:

Sperm whale blow



3 sperm whales together at the surface

The closest thing we saw to a whale tail in the morning

Bottlenose dolphin

Watching the bottlenose dolphins from aboard our catamaran

Watching the bottlenose dolphins from aboard "Song of Whales"


Photos from the afternoon:

The sperm whale we call "Sussi"


Sussi going on a deep dive

The calf we always see with Sussi

Watching common dolphins from aboard our zodiac boat

Watching the common dolphins from aboard our catamaran 

Watching bottlenose dolphins

A playful bottlenose dolphin

Bottlenose dolphins with our catamaran
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