Our traditional boat went out both in the morning and in the afternoon today on two very different tours. Despite the perfect conditions this morning it was hard to find animals and our team embarked on a long search that lead us almost 5 nautical miles off the coast of Calheta to a small, shy group of Risso’s dolphins (Grampus griseus). Risso’s are generally easily recognisable at sea due to the intense scarring on their bodies, which increases with age and gives the animals an almost whitish appearance. Todays group consisted mainly of juvenile animals with very light scarring so our team wasn’t sure about the species at first, but then one older animal with several white scars appeared and confirmed our assumption.
Our team was ready for another long search this afternoon but our spotter soon called with some lovely news. He had found a baleen whale mother and her calf near the aquaculture close to Calheta and as we entered the area the whales soon continued travelling briskly around 100m from the coastline. Our crew couldn’t help but smile; the sighting for the morning tour was so far out at sea and now we found a whale so close to shore that you could have seen it from our shop! However, to do the Risso’s sighting this morning justice, the whale’s evasive behaviour made it challenging for our team to identify the species. We strongly assume that it was a Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni) a sleek baleen whale that, in contrast to its rorqual cousins, prefers to remain in tropical/subtropical waters. Next up was another warm-water loving species; Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) were frolicking not far from the area where we had seethe whale and, after some fun moments with these charming dolphins, we began our journey back to the marina. What a wonderful day!
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Risso’s dolphins
15:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Bryde’s whales