Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Azorean wildlife

Today we got to see a large diversity of Azorean wildlife out on the ocean. There were plenty of dolphins around for all to see throughout the day. In the morning we encountered our 3 residents, the bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin and Risso's dolphin. From one of our boats a large group of striped dolphins was also encountered. In the afternoon we had more bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins and a brief encounter with some Atlantic spotted dolphins. This is a great time of the year for dolphin watching in the Azores because the groups are large and include many babies. We had some very playful babies today, often leaping out of the water and playing around our boats. Our swimming clients today also had some nice underwater encounters with the dolphins. 

There is also a lot of other types of wildlife to see around the Azores. Today we spotted several loggerhead turtles and oceanic birds such as the Cory's shearwater, great shearwater and Manx shearwater. Closer to shore we passed Vila Franca islet where in the morning one of our biologists spotted a beautiful Azorean buzzard perched on a branch, making for a great photo opportunity.

Photos from the morning:

Bottlenose dolphin

Juvenile common dolphin

Common dolphins bowriding

Common dolphin

Swimming with bottlenose dolphins

Risso's dolphin

Azorean buzzard on Vila Franca Islet

Photos from the afternoon:

A playful common dolphin

Curious common dolphin baby accompanied by its mother

Atlantic spotted dolphin

Bottlenose dolphin

Loggerhead turtle

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Trustworthy friends

Today's tours were spent in the company of some trustworthy friends; the resident dolphins and whale species. In the morning we encountered all 4 residents, the Risso's dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin and sperm whale. In the afternoon we resighted all minus the Risso's dolphins, although both tours were just as great as each other. The star of the show today was the sperm whale, who is a well known male we call Mr Liable. Mr Liable is the most encountered sperm whale off São Miguel island and we have been seeing him since at least 2006, as this is the year of the oldest photograph we could find of him. We routinely photograph the tails of sperm whales to identify and catalogue them for our research and to update our knowledge about the whales and the dolphins of the Azores. From all these years of seeing Mr Liable we know his tail very well but it is amazing even for the crew every time we see it again. As usual today Mr Liable did not disappoint today as he gave a great tail display in the morning and in the afternoon.

Photos from the morning:

Mr. Liable 

Mr. Liable 

Common dolphin

A smiling Risso's dolphin

Risso's dolphins diving

Bottlenose dolphin

Strong bottlenose dolphins showing off their power

Photos from the afternoon:

Mr. Liable (sperm whale)

Playful common dolphin baby

Who is watching who? Beautiful meeting between human and dolphin

Common dolphin, mother and baby

Bottlenose dolphin

Saturday, October 3, 2015

False killer whale surprise

Today was an adventure filled day out on the ocean. We enjoyed a fun ride over the swell to go out to see some of the cetaceans of the Azores. During the day we had groups of common dolphins (our dolphin swimming clients had a really nice time in the water with them) and bottlenose dolphins. The bottlenose dolphins were really active today, we got to see some great displays and high jumps from these "flipper" dolphins. However, these acts of power did not compare to the power and speed of the false killer whales that we saw at the end of the day. The false killer whale can grow to an impressive length of 6 metres and weigh 2000 kilos. It's always a thrill to see these powerful bullet-like animals speeding through the water, especially today since they were bowriding close in front of our catamaran. A few times some of them even started leaping out of the water and sticking their heads out to look back at us. To make things better still, the cherry on top of the cake was the beautiful rainbow we had as a backdrop as we were watching the false killer whales. 

Photos from today:

Bottlenose dolphin surfacing

Bottlenose dolphin racing our boat

Common dolphin

Common dolphin leaping

False killer whales

False killer whale

A beatiful moment - a false killer whale and a rainbow

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September 2015 sighting statistics

This month has been an excellent month for sperm whales, but we have also been seeing a few other whale species such as fin whales and beaked whales. The pilot whales have been around too, although they go under the list of dolphin species, as they are the second largest dolphin in the world. The common dolphins has been as faithful as always as we have seen them all but one tour this month, and we have had a lot of bottlenose dolphin encounters too, with many well-known individuals. And finally our resident, the Risso's dolphins have paid us visits too, mainly during the end of the month. Then both striped dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins have been playing around with us too. So cetacean-wise it has been a great month. 

Other species, we have seen plenty of loggerhead turtles and flying fish, and also a few leatherback turtles. And to top it - a large hammerhead shark. The bird-list is also long: Cory's shearwater, great shearwater, Macaronesian shearwater, yellow-legged gull, common tern, Bulwer's petrel, pomarine skua, little egrets on Vila Franca Islet and finally, ruddy turnstones have been running around. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Dolphins and Vila Franca Islet

Today we had some beautiful encounters with two dolphin species. First, the common dolphin, which is a resident species in the Azores and the most encountered species in these waters, and second the Atlantic spotted dolphin, which is a seasonal species that prefers warmer waters and therefore only visits us for the warmer months of the year. We still have the summer feeling in the air with clear blue waters and plenty of baby dolphins. We really enjoyed their company today, especially when they were bowriding and the babies were leaping out of the water. During both the morning and afternoon tours we also had some time to enjoy views of Vila Franca Islet and in the afternoon we had a rare sighting here of 3 little egrets sitting together on the cliff face of the islet. 

Photos from today:

Common dolphin surfacing

Common dolphin juvenile and adult

Common dolphin juvenile leaping

Common dolphins bowriding

Atlantic spotted dolphins

Atlantic spotted dolphins

Passing by Vila Franca Islet

Monday, September 28, 2015

Common dolphins

Today we encountered different groups of common dolphins close to Ponta Delgada marina where our tours depart from. The common dolphin is the most encountered species in the Azores and is always great to watch as they are very social and playful animals. The common dolphin is also the most beautifully coloured dolphin species in the Azores as they have a yellow colour on their sides. Some of the groups we came across today were very large, one of them about 100 dolphins encountered from our zodiac boat. We got to see a great show as they were all wave surfing and playing around our boats. Although our biologists didn't get photos from today's encounters the most important thing is the memories that we have of them.

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