Monday, October 13, 2014

Dolphin experience

This morning we returned to the ocean for tours of swimming with and observing dolphins.We began by encountering a couple of our resident species: the bottlenose dolphin and the common dolphin. After these great encounters we had a surprise encounter with Atlantic spotted dolphins which is a migratory species observed during the warmer summer months (this was a surprise because this year we have not seen them as often as usual). Our swimming clients this morning had the pleasure of swimming with one of the more curious and intelligent dolphin species: the bottlenose dolphin. Our swimmers this morning had a truly unforgettable experience!

Bottlenose dolphin

Juvenile Atlantic spotted dolphin in perfect calm water with reflections

Atlantic spotted dolphin swimming right next to our boat

Aboard our catamaran Cetus, watching our swimming boat

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Azorean resident dolphins

Today we encountered the three dolphin species who are resident to the Azores: bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins and Risso's dolphins. These species can be seen year-round and we often resight the same groups and individuals so we get to know them very well, and who know maybe they also get to know us? The Risso's dolphins were encountered only during the morning tour, but the common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins were seen throughout the day. In the morning our vigia also sighted a group of Atlantic spotted dolphins, but they vanished without a trace before we arrived to the area. All in all it was another great dolphin day and as usual we got to see many baby dolphins, of all three species.

Photos from today:

Bottlenose dolphin outside of Ponta Delgada

Bottlenose dolphins

A pale baby bottlenose dolphin

Our catamaran Cetus with common dolphins

Juvenile common dolphin

Aboard our zodiac boat

Risso's dolphins - a dark unmarked baby with a very well marked adult female

Our catamaran with Risso's dolphins

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dolphin love and family time

Today we had the pleasure of spending the morning with a few nice family groups of common dolphins. In total we encountered 3 different groups of common dolphins, each of them interesting in their own way. The first group was near Ponta Delgada and although the group was small, we spotted much larger bottlenose dolphin in the group - maybe the same one as yesterday? The second group was an active one and we could see a lot of dolphin love - mating activity which is a good sign that they are creating the babies for the next summer. The third group had a lot of smaller babies in it so they were really fun to watch. The bond between mother and calf is always very strong and we could see this in the way they were swimming side by side and coordinating their movements. After our dolphin encounters we made a brief visit to the protected area of Vila Franca Islet where we saw different nesting bird species and of course the red rock crabs!

Common dolphin calf leaping alongside our boat

Dolphin love

Dolphins swimming fast on their sides - mating behaviour

Full action - ongoing mating

A beautifully coloured rock pigeon sneaking through the vegetation of Vila Franca Islet

Juvenile gull on the islet

Red rock crab

Aboard Cetus

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Dolphins rock a lot!

This morning was a calm and interesting dolphin morning. We started with common dolphins feeding with Cory's shearwaters and yellowlegged gulls, we could see some slow activity and we were waiting for a feeding frenzy but it never started. Maybe it had already ended. All of a sudden we had at least two larger dolphins in the group: two bottlenose dolphins. But we heard on the radio that the lookout had seen more bottlenose dolphins further west. We left the smaller dolphins. After spending some time with the bottlenose dolphins our captain decided to try the hydrophone to listen to the dolphins, but they didn't want to talk today. We could only hear the ocean waves. At the end of the tour we slowly moved back towards Ponta Delgada close to the shoreline and enjoyed the view of the village called Rocha da Relva and the lava formations and layers from the different eruptions throughout time.

Photos from today:

Common dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins - a pale individual in between two of a more typical shade or grey

Watching bottlenose dolphins from our catamaran "Cetus"

A great time on top deck

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A bright afternoon

Today began grey and rainy, but ended bright and sunny and with some nice wildlife encounters. In the morning we tried to go out to sea after the rain cleared up a bit. We got to see a beautiful double rainbow after leaving Ponta Delgada. However, the mist hung around the island so that our vigias could not see much, so we returned to land to try again later in the day. In the afternoon we had blue skies so that we could enjoy a lovely group of common dolphins between Ponta Delgada and Vila Franca. We also had some glimpses of a shy loggerhead turtle and then we finished our tour by enjoying the views of Vila Franca Islet and the south coast of Ponta Delgada on the return journey.

Photos from today:

The rainbow of the morning

Common dolphin in the beautiful blue ocean of the Azores

Common dolphin racing our boat

Mother and calf

Watching common dolphins from our catamaran

Loggerhead turtle coming up for air

 Checking out Vila Franca Islet

Monday, October 6, 2014

Watching dolphins and the natural beauty of Vila Franca Islet

Today we returned to the ocean and had some great encounters with our resident species, the common dolphin and the bottlenose dolphin. We also had the pleasure of enjoying the natural beauty of Vila Franca Islet, on which we saw some of the species that nest there, such as the common tern and rock pigeon. In the afternoon we also had a more rare sighting of a little egret on the islet. It was a windy day, but in the afternoon the sun came out, so all in all it was another pleasant day out on the ocean in the middle of the Atlantic.

Photos from today:

A close encounter with a bottlenose dolphin

Watching bottlenose dolphins from our catamaran

Watching common dolphins

Common dolphin leaping next to our catamaran

Approaching Vila Franca islet and enjoying the afternoon sunshine

Little egret flying over Vila Franca Islet
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