What an eventful day! I hardly had time to explain the biology and life cycles of the animals with so much going on! The warm summer sun lit up the calm Atlantic Ocean for both trips aboard our traditional boat today and our blue office delivered with several surprises.
In the morning our first encounter was with a group of curious Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) who happened to be swimming close to a group of Rough-toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis). One of the juvenile spotted dolphins gently melted into the group of Rough-toothed as they all unanimously engaged in a bow-ride infant of the Ribeira Brava. Our spotter on land discovered yet another group of dolphins, the beautiful but evasive Striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba) who unfortunately leapt away as we entered the sightings area. It was soon time to return to the marina and we cruising back slowly when our spotter on the boat, Carlos, spotted a large baleen whale moving through the coastal waters near Madalena do Mar. The animal was moving west and, after a close encounters and a few pictures, could be identified as a Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni). Unlike their other fellow ocean-crossing rorquals, Bryde’s whales prefer to remain in the warm waters of the lower latitudes in the world’s oceans making Madeira a perfect resting spot during the summer months.
Our afternoon charter aboard our traditional boat had the pleasure of encountering a mixed group of Short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) that were resting at the surface in the company of a few Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). We then went on to meet yet another group of spotted dolphins before receiving news that the Bryde’s whale we had seen this morning was passing through the same area once more. This time, however, the whale was moving fast and already had two other boats on its tail prompting us to abandon the sighting and return to the marina. On our way back to the marina an Atlantic Flying fish (Cheilopogon melanurus) suddenly launched out of the water and hovered several metres above the surface before disappearing beneath the clear blue surface of the Atlantic. Despite our fourth specie not being a cetacean during our second tour, our guests were nonetheless delighted at our sightings and grateful for the efforts of our team!
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Bryde’s whale, Rough-toothed dolphins, Striped dolphins
15:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Bottlenose dolphins, Short-finned pilot whales