Sometimes searching for cetaceans out on the ocean feels like finding a needle in a haystack. The powerful eyes of our spotter have often located animals in challenging conditions, which is even harder if the animals are displaying an extremely discreet behaviour. Striped dolphins (Stenella coeroleoalba) belong to one of the cetacean species that usually display a more evasive behaviour towards our boats so if they don’t want to be seen, it will not be easy to find them. Our spotter managed to locate a small group of these dolphins beneath the windy waters and some of the animals even leapt to travel faster as another boat entered the area.
The presence of a second boat in the area also prompted us to leave the area and search for a small group of Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) further inshore. The Bottlenose were also moving discreetly, occasionally diving to hunt and showing little interest in the boat and their avid admirers. In contrast to most other dolphin species we encounter around Madeira, Bottlenose dolphins usually dive to hunt and rarely do so at the surface making their foraging a hard event to witness.
We were lucky that our spotter managed to find the dolphins under the given conditions but the group of guests aboard the afternoon tour weren’t so lucky. We were unable to provide our guests with a sighting despite searching a large area for an extremely timid Baleen whale (Balaenoptera) and Short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis). Sometimes things don’t always go according to plan but our guests enjoyed the ride aboard our beautiful traditional boat nonetheless.
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
14:30 No sighting
10:00 Bottlenose dolphins, Striped dolphins