We had the pleasure of meeting some curious and relatively rare visitors during both our tours today. Rough-toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis) belong to some of the most intelligent creatures in the ocean and have some of the most unique features in the dolphin family. From afar, these elegant creatures can easily be confused with Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), due to their similar size and high dorsal fins. Up close their characteristic uncanny features are instantly visible; their conical head, white lips and large round eyes give the animals a somewhat prehistoric appearance.
Their common name originates from the roughened surface on their teeth, caused by numerous irregular ridges while their latin name, Steno, makes reference to their narrow heads which gracefully broke the smooth surface of the Atlantic as they curiously inspected our vessels. Little is known about the lives of Rough-toothed dolphins but their intelligence is undeniably obvious during an encounter, with cetacean scientists studying the species even reporting ritualistic behaviours in some groups.
The afternoon pod of this species even contained a young calf which swam in a perfectly aligned manner alongside its older peers. The groups of Bottlenose we encountered also contained a young calf who was nursed by its drifting mother as we watched in admiration. These lovely sightings on both tours were complimented by a brief encounter with a Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) catching some sun at the surface. What a wonderful day on the Atlantic Ocean!
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
14:30 Bottlenose dolphins, Rough-toothed dolphins, Loggerhead turtle
10:00 Rough-toothed dolphins, Loggerhead turtle