One classic picture engrained in our minds when we think of dolphins is them leaping up high above the surface and our guests often ask why the animals actually do that. Dolphins may jump out of several reasons that include the travelling, the removal of parasites, social behaviour and may even use the water’s surface for rapid communication or attracting the attention of the rest of the pod!
Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) are especially notorious for being extremely surface active with their strong flukes propelling them up to five meters into the air! Apparently these dolphins engage in such high jumps to inspect their environment at the surface and one little calf was especially curious today, darting and leaping around the boat as its older peers carefully drifted close by. Since dolphins can see quite well above the surface due to their highly adaptable lens so it only makes sense that they leap to satisfy their curiosity!
The Striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba) we met further out at sea kept their distance and only exposed part of the beautiful marble like pattern along their flanks as they darted away from our boat. Leaping into the air allows dolphins to breathe and travel a lot faster since air has a lot less resistance than water!
Unfortunately, no cetaceans were encountered on todays afternoon trip aboard the Ribeira Brava but our guests were instead surprised by another leaping, or better said hovering, ocean species. Atlantic flying fish (Cheilopogon melanurus) seek shelter along Madeira’s shoreline from predators and when threatened propel themselves elegantly out of the water, using their wing-like pectoral fins to hover away from danger. While doing so, they expose their pretty blue bodies and pink wings, earning them the reputation of being one of the coolest and most beautiful fish around the archipelago.
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
14:30 No sighting
10:00 Bottlenose dolphins, Striped dolphins