Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Spring and summer species in the Azores

We are well into the summer months and summer weather, but we are still enjoying some spring time sightings of baleen whales. Today we encountered a fin whale in the afternoon, one of the baleen whale species that migrates past the Azores during the spring months. As well as this slightly unexpected sighing we also encountered some of our summer time Atlantic spotted dolphins in the afternoon (swimming together with the fin whale), common dolphins during the day, and last but not least some sperm whales in the morning. The sperm whale is our resident whale species and this morning we had to go to the eastern end of the island to see them. After a bit of waiting we encountered two individuals that showed their tails to us. What a fantastic day!


Photos from this morning:









Photos from this afternoon:






Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Summer fin whales

We had a lovely surprise today from two fin whales travelling together this morning. It was a bit windy out there on the ocean but it showed the strength of the whales swimming perfectly through the waves. We could see the power of their blows as well. After this amazing encounter we stopped for dolphins, first one group of common dolphins and later on a mixed group of common dolphins with the larger bottlenose dolphins. To see several different species during the tour is always fun but even better to see them together as it is easy to see the difference of size, color and behaviour. From the boats we could also see flying fish and loggerhead turtles (one of them blocking our way to the whales at one point). In the afternoon we encountered fin whales again, but this time there were three of them travelling together. The first surfacings that we saw were already really good, then to add to it the whales suddenly became curious. Just when we thought they were going on a deeper dive we saw their shadows near our boat turn and come straight for us. They passed very close in front of the bow of our catamaran, what a nice surprise!

Photos from this morning:


Fin whale


The two fin whales together

The powerful blow of a fin whale


Common dolphin

Bottlenose dolphin

Bottlenose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphin and a common dolphin

Bottlenose dolphin


Photos from this afternoon:





Sunday, June 28, 2015

A breaching sperm whale

Today we had sperm whales around again. It's been a really great month for sperm whales off São Miguel Island! In the morning we encountered three different individuals. First a juvenile that was surfacing with its head high out of the water and several times showing us a low fluke. Next was a larger adult who showed us how it's done by showing its tail a bit better, and later another juvenile. When we see our photos better later we can figure out which sperm whale group this is, as we can recognise the different individuals by the unique marks on their tails and dorsal fins. In the afternoon the whales were further to the east of the island, but our captains went the extra mile so that we could show our passengers sperm whales once again. This time we encountered a breaching sperm whale - a whale leaping out of the water several times, perhaps using the sound it makes to communicate with the other sperm whales in the area or maybe to rid itself of peeling skin or parasites. After the breaching the whale went under, turned around and surfaced nearby, passing between our boats. We go to see a fabulous tail from this whale as it went down on a deep dive. As for dolphins...our whale watchers today encountered common dolphins and our swimmers were also with bottlenose dolphins. There is nothing like a lovely encounter with some playful dolphins to complete the tour.

Photos from the morning:

Our first sperm whale of the day

This one was always showing us a low fluke


The second sperm whale - easily distinguishable by its white dorsal marks


Can you see the baby behind the mother?

Watching common dolphins



One of the common terns that was following our catamaran



Photos from the afternoon:


Sperm whale breaching! It did it several times as we approached

After breaching the whale became curious, turned and passed between our boats





Saturday, June 27, 2015

Our resident friends

In the morning we started with a sperm whale family and we got lots of fluke as they seemed hungry and going on feeding dives. Luckily for us, we get plenty of photos for our research to identify them. Later on we encountered common dolphins busy mating and playing around and next to them was a small group of juvenile bottlenose dolphins, maybe seeing what the smaller common dolphin were up to. But the groups didn't really mix but stayed just 50 m or less away from each other. Very interesting to see. In the afternoon the sperm whales had moved further east but after a bit of patience we encounter our well-known sperm whale called "Orca" with a juvenile. "Orca" soon gave us a fluke and the young one stayed but surprise - another fluke! On the way to the whales we stopped for Risso's dolphins and on the way back we stopped for common dolphins and a loggerhead turtle.

Photos from the morning:


Fluking sperm whale

Two whales diving

Curious bottlenose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins

Common dolphin

Common dolphin

Watching bottlenose dolphins

Photos from the afternoon:


The sperm whale we call "Orca"


"Orca" fluking


Juvenile fluking


Watching a sperm whale




Risso's dolphin


Photo of breaching Risso's dolphin (photo taken from inside the skippers cabin)


Risso's dolphin diving


Common dolphin
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