The fact that we never really know what to expect from a trip, let alone a day, on the ocean makes our job incredibly exciting…but often also very challenging. Occasionally two trips can be so different in both sightings and weather that’s surprising that they were simply hours apart.
Our trip aboard the Stenella this morning was incredible. As we sped out over a calm ocean, a curious pod of Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) leapt energetically towards our boat and hovered alongside us for some time. These summer visitors often appear in relatively large groups, several flashing their characteristic spot pattern which develops and intensifies as the animals age. This allows us to distinguish subgroups containing the different age groups of the school rather well and adds an interesting touch to sightings with these charismatic dolphins.
Next up were equally charismatic but much huger members of the toothed whale family. A group Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) were busy hunting far outside Madalena do Mar and we were able to watch them rest for some moments at the surface. We carefully moved from animal to animal, as the group tends to be rather dispersed after a deep sea hunting session.
The beautiful morning was followed by a lovely but completely different tour. Our charming traditional boat set off with some lovely guests, sporting our sombreros and all eyes were scanning the ocean. The wind soon picked up and the Sperm whales we saw in the morning had already travelled 10 miles out to sea. Dolphins were nowhere to be seen amongst the white caps on the choppy ocean. Our team decided to try its luck with groups of Cory’s shearwaters (Calonectris borealis) circling tightly over some areas, as these often follow marine predators like dolphins to gain hunting advantages. Our search, despite the great effort of our team, ended without a sighting but everyone on board enjoyed the trip and our little cruise along the coastline at the end.
We never really know nature’s plan and that’s ok. The trick is to make the most of and enjoy whatever it is she may deliver.
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
14:30 No sighting
10:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Sperm whales