I’m not one to make a big deal about my birthday. After you turn 30, I suppose celebrating another year of getting older seems a little exaggerated so I simply settle for what the day brings. After hearing about the difficult tour in the morning where our spotter and crew worked hard to provide a sighting with an extremely shy Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris), I honestly wasn’t feeling too positive about our afternoon tour. The guests soon arrived for the briefing and were all lovely and ready for action out at sea. In the meantime I was secretly hoping that our incredible spotter, Carlos, had found something nice for us to see. Right before we left one of our Loja ladies, Marlene, told me “Don’t worry you will see your spotties”. She was referring to the Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis), which are easily one of my favourite cetaceans if not my absolute favourite. How funny would it be to encounter this species during our trip?
Out we went and our captain Filipe immediately shared the news of us having to search for the beaked whale of this morning again and that Carlos hadn’t seen anything else. Oh man….The ocean was glassy and the weather was perfect. If Carlos had not yet found anything else, then it was likely that there was nothing more to find. As we searched I decided to accept the very possible outcome of a no sighting tour. The Atlantic had been so generous in my years as a guide, my birthday is just another day. I was more upset for our guests actually but made it my mission to make the most out of the situation.
Suddenly a few dorsal fins emerged in the distance…and then a few more. The size of the animals, their behaviour and the fearless reaction they demonstrated towards the approaching vessel all indicated that these were in fact Atlantic spotted dolphins. It was a massive group that completely surrounded the boat and it contained countless little calves. The delightful surprise almost got me slightly emotional and I couldn’t help but smile silently to myself and think “happy birthday to me…”. I was so grateful to our team and towards the wonderful Atlantic Ocean for these moments and delighted to share them with such lovely guests.
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Cuvier’s beaked whale
14:30 Atlantic spotted dolphins