The ocean seemed almost desert-like this morning before our spotter discovered a small, shy group of Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) cruising close to the shore that were suddenly joined by a tiny group of Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis). After what felt like a relatively long search it was lovely for our crew and guests to find one dolphin species, let alone two!
Bottlenose dolphins are found in all the worlds oceans while the Atlantic spotted dolphins, as the name states, are confined to the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Here, both species are often found sharing the same habitat and interacting amongst one another. Such interactions aren’t always as peaceful as the one we witnessed today; Bottlenose dolphins have often been observed bullying smaller species of dolphins. Today, however, the animals swam peacefully alongside one another, allowing both crew and guests to notice differences in both the behaviour and appearance of these two charismatic cetaceans. Juvenile spotted dolphins almost look like tiny Bottlenose calves and, while the at least twice as large juvenile Bottlenose dolphins kept a safe distance to our boat, the spotted dolphins fearlessly darted towards us.
We found no spotted dolphins during our afternoon tour aboard the Ribeira Brava but our encounter with the Bottlenose dolphins definitely made up for it. This time these larger dolphins showed interest in our boat and darted towards us to ride the waves at our bow. Bottlenose dolphins are generally very interactive and are the species that is most likely to seek encounters with other species. They do, however, prefer to handle things one mammal at a time and pay more attention to us if no other cetacean species is around…and when Bottlenose dolphins are interested they really do deliver some of the best encounters of all cetaceans!
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
14:30 Bottlenose dolphins
10:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Bottlenose dolphins