Our team is always checking the horizon; whether it’s during, before or after a tour, our experience at sea leaves an almost constant anticipation of cetaceans suddenly emerging on the horizon as we look to sea. It’s a great habit to have and we do make sure to encourage our guests to try some spotting themselves during our tours and from the coastline.
Today the sharp eyes of our guests aboard the afternoon tour almost made our team look bad! As our crew was checking the horizon for a group of Striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba) that were heading out to sea in a big hurry, we almost completely missed a small nursery group of Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) that approached our traditional boat to hitch a ride on the waves of our bow. Meeting these curious little dolphins is always a delightful surprise and we continued observing the animals for some time before our captain Pedro signalled that it was time to start our return to the marina.
While the spotted dolphins were around 9 nautical miles away from our marina, a tiny group of Short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) was hunting directly near the shore. The small group contained a little calf, which was probably why these animals decided to remain in the sheltered waters of Madeira rather than head to the colder waters in the North Atlantic.
The common dolphins were so close to shore that I doubt our guests wont take my advice to keep an eye out for dolphins from shore. Apart from dolphins we also spotted some Portuguese Man O’Wars (Physalis physalis), a Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) as well as a few Flying fish (Cheilopogon melanurus). It was a truly entertaining trip!
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
15:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Short-beaked common dolphins