Our snorkelling dolphins were rather well hidden beneath this morning’s placid ocean and camouflaged amongst the many other species that were passing through the waters of the Southwest. Our spotter was able to guide our boats to groups of Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), Short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) and the beautiful Striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba). These pelagic dolphins are easily mixed up with the dolphins we try to find for our snorkelling tours, the Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis), since both species have a similar group dynamic when observed at a distance. Our snorkelers were ready to slide into the water as we approached the Striped but, once the species was confirmed, enjoyed a beautiful sighting with the animals from the boat.
Soon our spotter had more dolphins further West and our participants slipped back into their wetsuits to glide alongside the beautiful Short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis). These gorgeous dolphins are more commonly sighted in winter, which is why we target the large groups of spotted dolphins for our snorkelling tours during the summer.
The evening trip on board the Ribeira Brava was dedicated to a group of guests that had just arrived from a wedding ceremony here in Madeira. The bride and groom were sporting rings decorated with beautiful pictures of Short-beaked common dolphins and, surely enough, these were the animals that were later encountered in the waters of the far Southwest. The beautiful dolphins circled our boat curiously and elegantly rode the waves at our bow as the newly weds smiled down at them. Despite this being the only sighting during our trip since other species had evidently moved further offshore, I couldn’t help but interpret this sighting as a stroke of fate.
It is indeed a beautiful coincidence that we encountered the same species that were eternalised on the two wedding rings on this specific day after not having encountered them in a while. Nature does work in mysterious ways, all the best for the both of you Petra & Tobias!
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Bottlenose dolphins, Short-finned pilot whales
16:00 Short-beaked common dolphins
09:30 Bottlenose dolphins, Short-beaked common dolphins (Snorkeling), Short-finned pilot whales, Striped dolphins
15:00 Cuvier’s beaked whales, Rough-toothed dolphins, Short-beaked common dolphins, Sperm whales