Finding animals out on the Atlantic can be quite tricky but identifying them at sea can also present quite a challenge for the crew working to achieve sightings for our guests. The first cetaceans we met on this mornings tour are pretty easy and straightforward when it comes to identification at sea. Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) are notoriously curious and almost always approach our boats as we enter the sightings area. Their small, slender build and their characteristic spot pattern combined with their unambiguous nature makes them one of the easiest dolphin species to recognise at sea.
Identifying the next species presented bait of a challenge for our crew. Our spotter called during the encounter with the spotted dolphins informing us of a single cetacean breaching further out at sea. The size and breach style of the animal allowed him to assume that it may have been a small baleen whale or a lone beaked whale but as we approached the animal, the high falcate dorsal fin indicated that we were in the company of a nomadic Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus).
We rarely encounter solitary dolphins and when we do they tend to react quite evasively to the presence of our boats or simply continue doing their thing, like the Short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) we observed hunting alone towards the end of the trip. With the right hunting tactics, dolphins can secure a good meal without having to coordinate and share with their peers.
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Bottlenose dolphin, Short-beaked common dolphin