Our colourful traditional boat set out onto the Atlantic twice today to meet an equally colourful variety of cetaceans. During our morning tour, our charming little group of guests had the pleasure of meeting no less than three species of cetaceans with an enormous and curious group of Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) as our opening act. Next, our boat stopped in the waters far off the coast of its namesake village, Ribeira Brava, to meet a rather dispersed group of Short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) that were engaging in a series of brief foraging dives as they headed eastward. As we returned to the marina, we had an unexpected sighting involving a handful of Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) who unfortunately showed little interest in our lovely boat. Our guests were all smiles nonetheless and we returned to Calheta grateful for such a successful start to the day!
The ocean seemed more deserted during our afternoon tour, leaving our crew hopeful for a small surprise from the Atlantic for our birthday girl on board, Marlene from the office, and our excited guests. The eagle eyes of our spotter scanned the waters 4 miles offshore and soon honed in on a small group of dolphins. Expecting another group of spotted dolphins, our boat carefully entered the sighting area and searched for some signs of activity. Before long the Atlantic truly delivered a delightful surprise; Rough-toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis), an intelligent and seldomly encountered dolphin species here in Madeira, broke the surface in synchrony as if dancing to the silent songs of the ocean. Our guests were enchanted by these charismatic animals and even more impressed as I spoke about the ritualistic behaviour that had been observed amongst some groups of this species. Of course, we also managed to plant a happy smile on the face of our birthday girl. Mission accomplished!
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Bottlenose dolphins, Short-finned pilot whales
14:30 Rough-toothed dolphins