If someone were to ask me what my favourite time of the year for whale-watching is, I would tell them it begins right now. September marks the arrival of late summer and the slow transition into the cooler autumn months. Around the world, the water column gradually begins to mix allowing nutrients from shallower layers to be mixed into deeper waters and vice versa. The oceans are filled with vertical and horizontal migrations. One such migration is that of deep sea squid, locally known as potas, to shallower waters at night, which comes to the joy of many fishermen and, of course, many toothed whales.
Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) are super active during the day, but actually most Stenella species are known to be nocturnal hunters. At night these small dolphins are thought to hunt the squid at the surface while, during the day, they hunt other fish. Todays dolphins were dispersed over a huge area hunting a shoal of flying fish (Cheilopogon melanurus), making the snorkelling activity quite hard. Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) were in abundance today and encountered on almost all tours. But today’s special came in the form of September’s characteristic large visitors, arriving to gorge on the deep sea squid further offshore.
A pod of Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) had arrived; it was music to our team’s ears. Very few sightings are as magnificent! These enormous toothed whales not only break several records within the animal kingdom, they also are relatively easy to observe when compared to other larger whales. We saw a large dispersed pod of females on both our afternoon tours, all breathing heavily at the surface before giving a thunderous exhalation announcing yet another dive into the dark ocean.
Fantastic. Welcome September!
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
09:30 Bottlenose dolphins
13:30 Bottlenose dolphins, Sperm whales
09:30 Atlantic spotted dolphins (Snorkelling)
14:00 Bottlenose dolphins, Sperm whales
17:00 Bottlenose dolphins, Sperm whales