East winds were picking up on this first day of the second month of the year but the beautiful animal diving through the choppy waters made sure not to remain hidden. Before we sped out aboard our zodiac, our spotter Carlos discovered a Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) breaching in front of our marina. I did my best to keep the briefing brief and we set off to find this rare visitor.
Humpback whales are known to aggregate at designated feeding, mating and calving areas at specific times of the year, where they socialise with conspecifics and show their true charismatic nature. In social situations, Humpback whales are known to spyhop, breach and barrel roll, a true dream come true for all avid whale-watchers. This charismatic nature as well as the song of the Humpback whale has made it a keystone species in the fight to protect cetaceans on a global scale.
Oceanic islands like Madeira often serve as pitstops for these oceanic nomads, who travel alone until they meet their fellow peers in the designated areas. Lone whales tend to be more timid and, by the time we arrived at sea, the whale was already engaged in a series of 20 minute dives. It was worth the wait; the whale would eventually surface to breather and lift its beautiful white fluke before diving again. Enjoying this sighting with Paul do Mar as a backdrop was simply incredible, what a great start to the month!
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
13:30 Humpback whale