We are truly blessed to conduct whale-watching on this unique little island. Madeira’s deep waters are inviting to a number of cetacean visitors and accommodate a variety of other marine organisms too. The steep gradient at which the archipelago rises out of the 4000m deep surrounding waters also allows the animals to linger in the coastal waters of this impressive oceanic island, often making them easily visible from land. The mean distance at which we see animals from the shore these days is 3,5 – 4 nautical miles from the coast, at a depth of around 2000m.
Today our sightings of Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) on both tours occurred at this distance from shore but were located further east, which meant our traditional boat had a long way to go. The grey glare at the surface from the partially overcast sky also didn’t make it easy for our spotter to follow the groups, that were briskly moving south towards the open ocean…but we didn’t let that stop us from following the animals. The Ribeira Brava may have a more limited search range than our zodiac but there are few sightings that are too far for her nonetheless.
On site we were happily greeted by the dolphins, who curiously swam alongside our boats and occasionally leapt near us. Managing a more challenging sighting is always like striking gold; the spotted, although curious, often move further out to sea in the course the day into deeper waters making them harder to reach. Thanks to the great effort of our crew and spotter, the team was able to provide two lovely observations with these charismatic cetaceans and light up the faces of our guests with some satisfied smiles.
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins
15:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins