The ocean was saturated with smiles today, both on our boats and at the surface! Our guests aboard our Stenella this morning had the pleasure of enjoying close encounters with a total of three different species. First up was a travelling group of Short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) that were charging east and lifting their heads up high above the surface. We then encountered a wonderfully curious group of Blainville’s beaked whales (Mesoplodon densirostris) shortly afterwards, typically timid animals that decided to glide alongside our zodiac today. The gran finale of the trip was a large, cheerful group of Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) wrapping up a fine start to the day for our grinning guests and our team. We met another group of spotted under the scorching midday sun on the Ribeira Brava this afternoon along with a couple of inquisitive Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus).
Dolphins, or cetaceans in general, never actually fail to plant a smile on the faces of our guests during an encounter and ironically almost seem to smiling themselves from the surface. In actual fact, however, these animals aren’t smiling since they do not possess any facial expressions. Their lips just happen to have a smiling curve which ranges from the cheeky grin of the spotted, to the slight smirk of the Bottlenose up to the sad-looking smile of the pilot whales.
A dolphins smile, however appealing it may seem to us humans, has also contributed to a sense of false empathy towards the animals leading to the cruel practice of captivity. Our tours out on the ocean should prove that nothing beats encountering the animals in their natural habitat where their curiosity and our smiles are a result of mutual respect.
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
15:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Bottlenose dolphins
10:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Blainville’s beaked whales, Bottlenose dolphins