The guests aboard our Ribeira Brava had the pleasure of meeting two of Madeira’s most important predators; the Short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) and the Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). And better still, we were able to find the two species together.
The pod of around 30 pilot whales was resting blissfully at the surface, completely indifferent and visibly undisturbed by our presence, which allowed our guests to experience these animals in their most peaceful form. A tiny pod of 3 Bottlenose Dolphins was moving with the pod and repeatedly diving. The Bottlenose are likely the species responsible for this mixed sighting, since it took place in deeper waters around 4nm off the coast of Ponta do Sol and since the pod of pilot whales was significantly larger. The Bottlenose were even mimicking the swim behaviour of the pilot whales, a behaviour frequently observed during such sightings.
While they did their best to fit in with the pilot whales, the bottlenose dolphins seemed to be completely ignoring us. I suppose they had better things to do and are only willing to dedicate attention to one mammal at a time, an understandable way of avoiding distractions. Despite this, our guests enjoyed every minute of the sighting and we all returned to Calheta through drizzling rain with broad smiles on our faces.
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
14:30 Bottlenose Dolphins, Short-finned pilot whales