Thursday, November 20, 2014

Rainbow (the whale) with family

Today we had rainbows and Rainbow the whale. It was a rainy morning here in São Miguel but due to the hard work of our lookouts we encountered our well-known sperm whale group of Orca, Bear Paw, Marble, Iris and a young one. The young one was identified in June and now by the dorsal fin we could re-identify it, and it got its name today: Rainbow, as we saw it under a wonderful rainbow. There are more whales in this group but we spent the morning with five of them as there were more animals to see. We also encountered a large group of common dolphins chasing pipefish. They were around the sperm whales and we saw some nice jumps from the dolphins and some bowriding. Our swimming boat enjoyed the company of bottlenose dolphins. When it comes to birds we got to see our two most sighted species: Cory's shearwater and yellow-legged gulls, but also a Manx shearwater was flying around.

Photos from today:

The whale called "Rainbow" under a rainbow making a rainbow blow

"Bear Paw" (Björntass) diving

One of the sperm whales "Marble" diving

"Iris" diving

A sperm whale calf called "Rainbow" under a rainbow

The left angled blowhole of a sperm whale, "Orca"

"Orca" and "Rainbow"


Common dolphin mother and calf pair

Pipefish jumping out of the water as they were being chased by hungry common dolphins

Common dolphin leaping after its food

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A morning with 12 whales!

Today we had a morning spent well with a group of at least 12 sperm whales! After many days of being restricted to land due to bad weather it was great to be able to go out this morning and even better to be able to show our passengers a group of our resident sperm whales. Our first stop was to spend some time with a small group of common dolphins. Then the sperm whales kept us happy for the rest of the morning. We were content with the first whales, especially after the second one showed us a nice tail when it went on a deep dive, but to our surprise there were more whales in the area then we expected! Every time we tried to leave the area to turn back to Ponta Delgada we were surprised to come across another sperm whale at the surface. The first of these surprises was when one of our clients on the top deck of the catamaran spotted 3 sperm whales at the surface together. In total we counted 12 whales in the area! From looking at our photos we do not recognise any of the individuals so this may be new family group that we have not seen here before. 

The second whale of the day

Rainblow! Sometimes when the light is just right the whale's blow appears as a rainbow

Two of the 3 whales at the surface together

Watching a sperm whale from the top deck of our catamaran


Common dolphin jumping next to our catamaran

Common dolphins

 Common dolphins

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Taking part in photo ID with Mr. Liable

Today we started with some common dolphins with babies but they were not to interested in us so very soon we left them to go and see our well-known Mr. Liable - the great male sperm whale that we can rely on to give us a spectacular show. When we encounter him we can rely on him to stay for a while at the surface to let us see his majestic blow and that he will give a high tail out of the water. This by itself made our day, but like that wasn't enough we ended our tour with a species mix of bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins, Cory's shearwaters, yellowlegged gulls and a loggerhead turtle. All in the same small area. It was a great pleasure to see the two different dolphin species interact with each other in a calm and playful way. Sometimes we can see one species annoy the other but that was not the case this morning. We couldn't ask for more, we had a wonderful tour with happy clients, happy crew and lookouts. After the tour we returned to our office and we all took part in some research and photo identification while drinking some green tea. We compared the fluke we got to the fluke we have in our catalogue of Mr. Liable, and we looked at the different marks we use to identify the them. So today small group of sperm whale identification experts left our office. Thank you for taking part and showing an interest in our research.

The left angled blowhole of a sperm whale


Mr. Liable and a Cory's shearwater


Mr. Liable diving

The friendly face of a bottlenose dolphin

Common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and Cory's shearwater all together

A shy loggerhead turtle that didn't want to surface

Our skipper Mário picking up plastic from the ocean

Bottlenose dolphin

Bottlenose dolphin tailslapping

Friday, November 7, 2014

Mr Liable is around

Today, in the morning, we had an amazing whale watching tour. We can say that the nature worked in our favour: many cetaceans and perfect weather and sea conditions. Just in front of the marina we had a small group of common dolphins. We observed them just for a few minutes because our lookout spotted a bigger group of cetaceans further out. We could identify them from a distance, big sized and grey dolphins: bottlenose dolphins. It was an incredible encounter with these intelligent animals and there were more than 70 individuals swimming and bowriding close to us. It is always interesting to see both common and bottlenose dolphins and check the differences in their colouration, size and behaviour. While we were enjoying the encounter we heard good news from our lookout; he found a whale! We traveled closer to the shore, and suddenly our catamaran crew spotted a blow just in front of the boat. It was our resident whale species: sperm whale, and even more resident as it was our famous Mr Liable. He is a large male, already well known because we saw him in many previous encounters. He is normally predictable in terms of where and when he is going to appear at the surface and has a beautiful and big tail (for these reasons we gave him the name Mr Liable). On our way back to the coastline we had another encounters with the common dolphins; it was a larger and more active group than before and finally back to the marina, finishing with big smiles and happy clients.

In the afternoon, we tried to resight Mr Liable, the sperm whale, but unfortunately we did not find him. We tried to predict when and were he was going to surface but we can't control him, and we sure don't want to. So in the afternoon we had to be happy, and we were, with playful common dolphins that had new born babies around.

Photos from the morning:

Mr Liable's head as he is resting at the surface


Mr Liable diving

Common dolphin looking at us

Bottlenose dolphins "running"

Aboard Cetus, with a jumping bottlenose dolphins playing with us

Bottlenose dolphin slicing through a wave


Our zodiac boat this morning


Photos from the afternoon:

Common dolphin leaping alongside out catamaran Cetus


Watching the dolphins from the bow

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Baby dolphins

This morning we went out to swim with and observe some of the dolphins that we have here in the Azores. We had both common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins out there and we had some great experiences with them. For many of us the highlight of the tour was the presence of many baby dolphins of both species. Summer may be over, but we are still seeing plenty of little ones, including some newborns. We started by encountering the common dolphins which were nearer to Ponta Delgada. We observed a group of about 60 dolphins who were together with many birds (mostly Cory's shearwaters), probably feeding together on small fish at the surface. Our dolphin swimmers stayed with these common dolphins while our catamaran continued further offshore to see the bottlenose dolphins. The bottlenose dolphins were delightful to watch as they spent most of their time simply accompanying our boat and apparently doing human watching while we were watching them. It was here that we saw some very young pale baby dolphins.






Two baby bottlenose dolphins jumping


Manx shearwater taking flight


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