Many cetaceans, like the enormous Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) spend the majority of their time below the surface which often makes encounters with these impressive toothed whales a slight challenge. However, like all cetaceans, Sperm whales must return to the surface to breathe and also use this time to rest and socialise with their peers. The animals were encountered on all three tours today, and on all three occasions our crew was lucky to have arrived at the scene as the family was regathering at the surface. This particular group of Sperm whales has been lingering in the waters of the Southwest for some time now but the animals seemed reluctant to share their surface time with us this afternoon and unanimously engaged in a shallow dive as we approached.
Oceanic dolphins such as the Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) tend to spend a lot more time at the surface in comparison to the deep-diving Sperm whales since their desired prey, which includes schooling fish such as Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus), often occurs in the upper layers of the water column. A massive group of spotted dolphins was travelling West past Calheta this morning, giving both our crew and guest on board a chance to enjoy the company of these wonderfully interactive dolphins. Spotted dolphins belong to the acrobatic Stenella genus which also includes the curious Spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) from Hawaii, and the large group of spotted today lived up to the reputation of their taxonomic group by leaping near our boat with one calf even repeatedly breaching in front of Madalena do Mar. What a fantastic day out on the ocean!
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
14:30 Sperm whales
10:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Sperm whales
15:00 Sperm whales