How spectacular! I sure did not expect to have such an enjoyable tour this afternoon despite the fantastic sightings that the rest of our crew had in the morning. My colleague Fatima had the pleasure of accompanying our guests on board our traditional boat this morning, where they managed wonderful encounters with Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis), Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and a large rorqual (Balaenopteridae). We met the rorqual again with a group of lovely guests on our afternoon tour together with another group of Bottlenose dolphins and had an absolutely fantastic sighting with the animals. Despite the proximity of the whale to our boat during the encounter, it was difficult to be certain about the species. In summer we have many sightings of Sei whales (Balaenoptera borealis) and Bryde’s whales (Balaenoptera edeni), which are best distinguishable through their rostral ridges; the Sei whale has one central ridge whilst the Bryde’s whale has three.
A closer inspection of our photos after the tours allowed both Fatima and I to confirm that the species was in fact a Bryde’s whale in both cases. Bryde’s (pronounced “broodus”) whale prefer the warmer waters of the tropic, sub-tropic and temperate zones of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Ocean making them unique amongst their fellow migrating rorquals. They are beautiful and slender whales the feed on zooplankton such as krill as well as on schooling fish such as Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus), which is probably why the whale was constantly in the company of a pod of Bottlenose dolphins this afternoon. Many predators have been hunting mackerel these past few days, so it wouldn’t come as a surprise to us that the opportunistic Bottlenose dolphins decided to follow the whale for hunting advantages. What a day and what a wonderful place the Atlantic Ocean is!
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Bottlenose dolphins, Bryde’s whale
15:00 Bottlenose dolphins, Bryde’s whale