Of all the cetaceans that visit the islands waters, False orcas (Pseudorca crassidens) definitely deliver the most explosive sightings. These incredibly fast close relatives of the Orca (Orcinus orca) travel at incredible speeds and usually dart towards our boat in a fearless manner that almost feels intimidating. Anyone who knows anything about the species knows that False orcas are not to be underestimated. These slender, extremely social dolphins conduct fierce coordinated hunts on larger fish and even small marine mammals, including dolphins. All smaller cetaceans have every reason to respect the False orcas and keep their distance.
The Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) do exactly the opposite. They swim alongside the powerful False orcas confidently, even engaging in close body contact with the animals. Today a False orca sandwiched itself between some Bottlenose dolphins at the bow of the Ribeira Brava and was soon accompanied by a few other members of its pod, who began to swim alongside the boat as they travelled east. Such sightings are so breathtaking, one doesn’t ever want them to end particularly with these rare visitors.
Associations among these two species, however, are not rare at all. We had the two associating during almost all our encounter with False orcas here in Madeira and reports of such interactions have surfaced all around the world, including New Zealand where they almost seem to “greet each other as friends”. The Bottlenose dolphins have even been observed changing their vocalisations around their missile like friends.
At the end of the day our traditional boat. Managed another sighting with Bottlenose dolphins. This time the animals were alone and speeding west, in a False orca-like manner. If friendship transcends across species, inspirations about how to hunt or travel more efficiently are sure to do so as well. Food for thought and maybe for inspiration.
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Bottlenose dolphins, False orcas
15:00 Bottlenose dolphins