What a fantastic day! We had so many lovely surprises waiting for us at sea and the day already began with a few. Our snorkelling tour was a total success; the guests were wonderful in the water and the encountered pod of Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) unexpectedly huge. We often only see a handful of animals at the surface that are only a fraction of the larger pod below. It was a lovely observation and the animals approached our guests a few times in the water before heading off west. On our way back to the marina, our captain suddenly saw the spout of a large whale near our Ribeira Brava and we soon had the pleasure of enjoying a bonus sighting with a large Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni), another tropical visitor here in Madeira.
Finding a whale and staying with it can be tricky business here in Madeira. The animals can be quite timid and often engage in several shallow dives to avoid our boasts. The animal we saw today had a marked dorsal fin and seemed to enjoy a specific spot in the southwestern waters. We found the individual on all three tours on our Stenella and throughout the encounters, the animal kept engaging in U-turns to stay in the same spot. The reason for this became clear during the second tour, where it was feeding on a large school of Horse mackerel (Trachurus trachurus) with a group of Atlantic spotted dolphins. It was a magnificent sighting! The large ball of mackerel approached our boat in an effort to escape the dolphins but these soon caught up with them once again.
In the evening we saw the whale again almost at the same spot, only this time it wasn’t in the presence of the spotted dolphins, but it was again u-turning around the same area. We don’t know what kept the whale in that area during the afternoon but we are grateful for those incredible encounters!
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Bryde’s whale
15:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins
09:30 Atlantic spotted dolphins (snorkeling), Bryde’s whale
14:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Bryde’s whale
17:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Bryde’s whale