What a fabulous day! Apart from meeting the cheeky Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) on both our tours today, we also had a sensational encounter with 3 Blainville’s beaked whales (Mesoplodon densirostris). These timid suction feeders spend most of their time in the deep, foraging for squid and socialising amongst one another. Madeira’s deep waters constitute an ideal underwater habitat for several groups of these robust-looking toothed whales and remains one of the best areas worldwide to encounter them. Today, a particularly curious group emphasised why these unique encounters are best experienced around the Portuguese archipelago.
The three beaked whales, a bull and two of his females, unanimously approached our bow as soon as they surfaced in the sightings area and began to bow-ride, giving us the unique opportunity to admire their characteristic features. Below their triangular and relatively small dorsal fin, dark grey bodies with a golden brown coloration resulting from a skin parasite emerged at the surface. The crystal clear waters enabled us to see their distinct jawline tilting upwards and containing two tusk-like mandibles in the case of the bull. The large male also flaunted the deep scars stretching from his melon towards his dorsal fin, reminiscent of encounters with other alpha males and cookie-cutter sharks. Last but not least, we were able to look into their round, beady eyes as they swam alongside us, a rare and spectacular bonus! While the encounters with the spotted were just as entertaining and joyful, that sighting with the beaked whales was one of our more memorable ones this week!
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Blainvilles beaked whales
15:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins