We never truly know what awaits us out at sea before we head out for a trip…. and the Atlantic Ocean is indeed full of surprises! The diversity of cetaceans visiting the waters of oceanic islands is astonishing; the deep sheltered waters of Madeira that also accommodate an abundance of prey seem very inviting to a variety of marine predators and we are lucky to share encounters with some of the most intelligent ocean dwellers with our guests.
Todays sightings involved a group of around 40-50 Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) that instantly approached our traditional boat, gliding through the waves of its colourful bow. These relatively small warm-water-loving dolphins often occur in larger groups that may contain small nursery groups with little calves and, despite the presence of these vulnerable youngsters, always deliver an enjoyable and interactive sighting!
As the encounter with the spotted dolphins came to an end, our spotter soon informed our crew at sea of another species half a mile further out on the Atlantic. Here, a herd of Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) were in the process of regrouping at the surface after a series of foraging dives in the abyss. These enormous toothed whales are thought to hunt alone in the dark ocean and locate one another at the surface by calling each other through recognisable clicks or breaches at the surface.
While we didn’t see any breaches today, we bore witness to a group of at least 4 Sperm whales reuniting on the Atlantic, an unforgettable experience for all guests on board both our boats. In these unsettling times nothing can plant a smile on the faces of people around the world more than the incredible peace nature brings and cetaceans belong to the oceans strongest ambassadors for this sense of harmony.
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
14:30 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Sperm whales
15:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Sperm whales