Saturday, May 2, 2015

Wild blue whale watching

This morning the waters along the south coast of São Miguel Island, Azores, were full of blue whales!
After not being able to go out on the water for a few days due to bad weather it was so nice to be able to go out again in the morning and be greeted by the biggest animals in the world. The sea was still a bit wavy but we had a fun ride and the whales were not far from Ponta Delgada. In the beginning we thought there were 2 or 3 whales in the area, but we soon spotted more blows around. From our catamaran we counted at least 6 blue whales, including 4 that were travelling together, but our zodiac went to investigate some more blows and we later concluded that there were at least 7 or 8 blue whales in the area! It was a wild but wonderful tour that we will not forget.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

April 2015 sighting statistics

April has come to an end and we are now looking back at our sighting statistics from the month. During April we encountered 7 different cetacean species, in order of most sighted: common dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, fin whale, blue whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin and humpback whale. It is this time of the year, and at least for another month from now, that we have the baleen whales, like blue whales and fin whales, but also sei whales, migrating past the Azores on the way to their North Atlantic feeding grounds. So far the season as not been as strong as in previous years, but at least we have been seeing cetaceans every tour. As well as whales and dolphins we have also seen other marine species such as many loggerhead turtles, ocean sunfish, flying fish, jellyfish, Portuguese man-o-war, salps and seabirds including Cory's shearwater, manx shearwater, Macaronesian shearwater, bulwer's petrel, yellow-legged gulls, great black-backed gulls, common terns, great skua, pomarine skua, sanderlings, ruddy turnstones and northern gannets

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Dolphins and fin whales

Today was a bit of a mixed day out on the ocean. We started the morning with a bit of rain and mist like yesterday, but still we had some lovely encounters with two of our resident dolphin species: the bottlenose dolphin and the common dolphin. The bottlenose dolphins were the usual ones that have been dominating the south coast of São Miguel island over the past months: the group that includes a well known dolphin that we call Bubblemaker because this one is almost always blowing a trail of bubbles before surfacing. 

In the afternoon we started again with the bottlenose dolphin group of Bubblemaker. We didn't stay with them for long because we received news from one of our lookouts that he had spotted some baleen whales a bit further out. The baleen whales turned out to be fin whales...3 of them travelling together! We had a nice encounter with 2 large adults and a smaller juvenile. After our whale encounter we still had more dolphins to see. From our catamaran we had a great and energetic encounter with a group of striped dolphins that was mixed with a few common dolphins. For our zodiac clients there was an extra encounter with a loggerhead turtle to add to our species list of the day. We also had a rare close-up encounter with a curious pomarine skua that was flying over our boats during our fin whale encounter. What a day!

Photos from the morning:

Enjoying the ride on our zodiac boat

Common dolphin

Watching bottlenose dolphins from our catamaran

Bottlenose dolphins

Our 2 zodiac boats out on the water

Photos from the afternoon:

One of the adult fin whales

The other adult fin whale
Watching the fin whales from our catamaran

The blowholes of one of the fin whales

One of our zodiac boats with the fin whales

2 of the fin whales at the surface together

Bottlenose dolphins

Striped dolphins

Striped dolphin

Striped dolphins

 Striped dolphins

Watching striped dolphins from our catamaran

Monday, April 27, 2015

Dolphins in rain

Today we had a rainy day both on land and on the ocean. But through the rain we had lovely encounters with both bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins. And also a loggerhead turtle and an unusual close encounter with a Northern Gannet. Because of the rain we don't have a lot of great photos, but a few, so enjoy. 

Curious bottlenose dolphin

Northern gannet at take off

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Dolphins and turtles everywhere

Today we had a day of turtles and dolphins. We started both the morning and the afternoon with bottlenose dolphins, our famous bubblemaking group, and later on the funny common dolphins playing around. With both species with got to observe several behaviours such as bowriding, wakeriding, jumping and mating. We also had a swimming boat out there with us swimming with the bubblemakers. They were very curious today so our swimmers had a wonderful time with the dolphins. In the afternoon we also saw several loggerhead turtles.

Photos from the morning:

Bottlenose dolphin

Our swimming boat from the morning

Bottlenose dolphin on its side

Common dolphin

Common dolphin

Photos from the afternoon:

Bottlenose dolphin

Common dolphin

Our swimming boat this afternoon

Dolphins and swimmers

One of the MANY turtles we saw this afternoon

A visit to Vila Franca Islet

Common tern on Vila Franca Islet
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