Most cetaceans (or marine animals for that matter) use Madeira as a pitstop to rest during their journeys through the Atlantic Ocean. There are some species of cetaceans, however, that spend more time here than others and among these are the intelligent Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Bottlenose dolphins are known to claim areas of abundant prey for themselves and their gregarious, streetwise nature also ensures that they understand the importance of interactions with other cetaceans competing for their prey. They patrol the shore in small groups like coastguards, sometimes coyly avoiding contact, other times racing towards the bow of our boats to glide near us and catch a glimpse of our excited guests.
While we never actually know how the Bottlenose will react to our presence, we do know where their favourite spots are. In the Southwest, Bottlenose dolphins are most frequently encountered in the waters near Madalena do Mar and the area between Tabua and Ribeira Brava, which was where we had encountered them today. Why they prefer these areas is open for discussion but, what’s for sure, is that once they’ve had enough of Madeira, the boundless Atlantic Ocean awaits. This can’t be said for trained dolphins in tanks which is why our team is stringently against the captivity of all cetaceans. The more we learn about these animals, the more inclined we should be to preserve their natural habitat rather than rip them away from it! I’m sure today’s guests would agree after witnessing these powerful, charismatic creatures in their element today!
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Bottlenose dolphins