Cory’s shearwaters (Calonectris borealis) are our faithful companions at sea. They have sweet beady eyes and elegantly sail just above the waves. They often act as sighting assistants. If they fly very actively up and down in an area, it can indicate that dolphins are hunting there. Cory’s shearwaters can dive headfirst into the sea up to 15 m to snag the tasty, fishy morsels. They are temporary guests here in Madeira, because they have the desire to travel in their blood. While the Atlantic islands are a good place for their breeding colonies, once the young have fledged they begin their journey to other climes. Birds who have to make long-distance flights across the sea face special challenges. Ocean birds such as Cory’s shearwaters belong to the tube-nosed order. Its beak is made up of several narrow, lengthwise pieces of horn. Two tubes sit directly on the beak. These function as a kind of desalination plant. These two tubes are used to separate the salt from the ocean water that is taken in. Nature inspires again and again, in the overall framework as well as in detail. In autumn/winter we have to say goodbye to our Cory’s shearwaters, wish them a safe journey and look forward to their return next spring.
Today we met a Cory’s shearwater feasting on a squid arm. This is what breakfast at sea looks like. Our spotter had sighted two different species of Beaked whales, which we did not see. They roamed the depths in search of food. The squid arm was probably a leftover from the hunting effort. Good to know there was a success. We set off to see Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) and Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus).
In the afternoon, a group of the Atlantic spotted dolphins enjoyed themselves in the Ribeira Brava’s bow wave. Our summer dolphins may also make their journey south soon, as they prefer warmer waters. So there is a need to say “Adeus” here too. But we know that next spring, usually in May, they will come back.
By Fatima Kutzschbach
Sightings of the day
14:30 Atlantic spotted dolphins
10:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Bottlenose dolphins
15:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Bottlenose dolphins