Guests often ask us what species we can expect at which time of the year and why and it’s a great yet complex question to answer. With such a diversity of cetaceans visiting our islands waters and with oceans that are constantly changing, it’s quite tricky to give a fixed answer. Serious assumptions about a cetacean species relationship to a habitat can only be made through long-term research on the populations occurring in the region, which is why our team continues to provide the scientific community here in Madeira with data from our tours.
Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) are extremely abundant in summer and seen almost on every single one of our tours. It’s almost impossible to deny that the species tends to prefer the hot summer months to the colder and stormier winter here in Madeira and research has shown that they generally like to remain in temperate and tropical waters. For now scientists believe this warm-water loving cetaceans occurrence in Madeira is largely seasonal and is related to the temperature of the water and prey availability.
The research on the relationship of more frequently sighted species in Madeira, such as Short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) or Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) is much more advanced and shedding light on the dynamics of communities surrounding the island. On our windy afternoon tour, our team was searching far and wide for the latter, since Bottlenose dolphins often move along the coastline towards the east and can often be encountered close to the coast. Sadly we found no cetaceans, a result we always anticipate but hope not to have for our guests. All the research on cetacean abundance can still not allow us to prevent such outcomes. In the end our work depends on a large portion of knowledge…and a healthy portion of luck.
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins
15:00 No sighting