The effect of dolphins, or better said cetaceans in general, on people is incredible. No matter how your day started, these animals just make it better. Getting into the water with Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) absolutely never gets old, no matter how often you do it and our snorkelling participants from this mornings tour would definitely not mind repeating our encounter on the calm Atlantic Ocean sometime again in their lives. The other side to such encounters is the fact that, if they aren’t conducted responsibly, they can be too invasive for the populations. A tricky situation this morning made our team think twice about whether to let our snorkelers into the water again. The curious nature of the dolphins makes them a magnet for many boats out on the ocean and it’s our responsibility to not make things harder for the animals. Our patience was rewarded; the spotted dolphins approached our boat again and we had a lovely finale to the morning trip while our Ribeira Brava managed a great observation of another group of spotted dolphins as well as some Blainville’s beaked whales (Mesoplodon densirostris).
The latter were also encountered during our afternoon tour along with an enormous and curious pod of Short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis), a highly vulnerable species that is more abundant in our waters during the winter season. In summer, Madeira is a safe haven for travelling common dolphin mothers and their calves from the perilous open ocean so, again, great care is required during such sightings. Same goes for the elusive beaked whales, who easily disappear for an evasive shallow dives from their rests at the surface if we aren’t careful during a sighting.
Our team managed yet another sighting with spotted dolphins further east but kept the encounter brief due to the windy conditions and small size of the group. It is our responsibility to always keep the impact that we have on the animals we see in mind when we are at sea and the fact that our guests appreciate this only makes us take it all the more seriously and gives us encouraging hope that the future of whale-watching may just become more sustainable.
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Blainville’s beaked whales
15:00 Blainville’s beaked whales
09:30 Atlantic spotted dolphins
14:00 Blainville’s beaked whales, Short-beaked common dolphins
17:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins