Our beautiful traditional boat, the Ribeira Brava, finally returned from a month of maintenance on the dry dock at Câmara do Lobos and set out this morning with an excited group of lovely guests. The charm of our wooden boat is simply irresistible and there’s nothing like enjoying the company of dolphins at the bow aboard this beautiful vessel. While the reflection of the bow of our colourful traditional boat decorated the Atlantic it was met with the equally impressive flank patterns of the Short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) beneath the surface. These elegant and agile dolphins are best identified through their distinct hourglass pattern which intensifies in colour as the animals age. In young calves the pattern looks more faded almost greyish, just like with the adorable calf gleefully darting around our boat as it learned to hunt Halfbeaks (Belone Belone) with its other young peers.
We also met these beautiful dolphins in the afternoon tour after a short rendezvous with a nursery group of Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and Striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba). In contrast to the interactive commons, Striped dolphins tend to display a more evasive behaviour towards boats here in Madeira but are equally beautiful animals. Their robust flanks are decorated with a long stripe extending from the eye towards the fluke and a grey or even light-blue pattern decorating their flanks down to their pink bellies. These two ornamental species make the Bottlenose dolphins look rather grey but, what the Bottlenose lack in coloration they make up for in intelligence. The gregarious nature of these large dolphins is unmistakeable during an encounter and is emphasised all the more when we see them in the company of other cetaceans, which often is the case. Once again, our team was able to spot Pacino in the group we encountered near Cabo Girâo, seems this dolphin and its company have spent this entire week around Madeira.
Apart from our decorative and intelligent friends, we were all able to spot no less than five Loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) catching some sun at the surface. All the basking turtles were very small juveniles and scattered across the almost placid waters between Calheta and Ponta do Sol. It was a lovely day out at sea and I was happy to have spent a day with one tour on each of our boats once again.
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Short-beaked common dolphins, Loggerhead turtle
15:00 Bottlenose dolphins, Striped dolphins, Short-beaked common dolphins, Loggerhead turtle