The cloudy sky cast a grey glare onto the Atlantic Ocean this morning as we set out to find dolphins aboard our zodiac. Our spotter soon managed to find a huddled group of Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) cruising two miles off the coast of Calheta. Finding our inquisitive “summer dolphins” at our front door was magical in all sorts of ways. We tend to see more of this curious little species during the summer months but are beginning to have more encounters with smaller groups during the winter months. Perhaps Madeira’s waters may even be home to a resident group of spotted dolphins? Either way the playful and extremely interactive nature of these dolphins is always a pleasure to experience during a tour and makes them perfect ambassadors for the fight against cetacean captivity.
As we searched for more cetacean action our team along with some of our new younger guests began to collect plastic out of the ocean. Contributing to the reduction of waste in our oceans has become a pivotal part of our company’s philosophy and we just love to see guests join in and show enthusiasm in helping us make the ocean a safer and cleaner place.
Apart from the obvious repercussions experienced by ocean inhabitants through chemical pollution, we often forget the effects caused by noise pollution. Beaked whales are particularly sensitive to this since they spend the majority their time in the deep where they completely rely on their acute sonar to guide them through the darkness. Loud noises such as those caused by larger vessels, military sonar experiments or seismic drilling for oil, can lead to serious injuries or the demise of these timid animals.
The careful approach to the group of Blainville’s beaked whales (Mesoplodon densirostris) during our afternoon enabled us to enjoy some beautiful moments with these creatures as well as with another cheeky group of Atlantic spotted dolphins. Such sightings prove that there still is so much to save and that the world is simply a better place with these wonderful animals in it!
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins
15:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Blainville’s beaked whales