Both our boats went out to sea again today and a seasonal species was seen on each of these trips. In the morning, our spotter led our traditional boat to a small group of Short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) not far off the coastline of the vessels namesake town, Ribeira Brava. Our boat began its long journey over a relatively calm sea to the spot and was soon joined by two other boats as it entered the sighting area. Naturally, all had heard about the dolphins there and entered the sightings area one by one. A larger tourist coastal tour vessel even sped up to keep up with stressed pod as they leapt away so our captain carefully manoeuvred the Ribeira Brava away from the dolphins and at a far distance parallel to the group. Our gentle approach paid off; soon a few common dolphins began bow-riding and our guests could admire the beautiful hourglass pattern along their flanks.
Our Stenella had the joy of observing a calm but interactive group of Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) who instantly approached our boat as we entered the sightings area. As I spoke about the lives of the animals, one guest asked whether dolphins actually defend territory. Whilst many species do reside in a habitat longer and may defend it against intruders, the spotted dolphins are considered to be transients with a large home range. The word home range describes the world of these animals perfectly; an enormous blue home with no barriers. In the case of the spotted this home range is restricted to lower latitudes since the species prefers warmer waters, which usually means 20-22 degrees celsius in Madeira. In winter the animals are thought to migrate further south and to more tropical waters.
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Short-beaked common dolphins
15:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins