What an incredibly fun and exciting day! While a large group of Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) entertained our guests aboard the Ribeira Brava, our clients on board the Stenella were in for an additional treat. A group of evasive toothed whales was dashing south and our zodiac carefully approached them for our team to identify the species. Oceanic islands like Madeira act like gas stations on the freeway for a diversity of marine life, so surprises or sightings with new species are always possible! Unfortunately, the brief sighting allowed little time for our team to identify the species but we are assuming it may have been either Pygmy killer whales (Feresa attenuata) or Melon-headed whales (Peponocephala electra). Both are rare and gregarious toothed whales so we can be proud to have had them so close by either way.
Next up was a lovely tour in the afternoon with a group of Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and two Bryde’s whales (Balaenoptera edeni). Both species are very well documented in the waters of Madeira so our team made sure to get some shots of the dorsal fins and some aesthetic pictures for our guests to enjoy in our blog.
Although the morning and afternoon tour were nothing short of spectacular, the evening tour laid the cherry on the cake and emphasised what our team can manage under the best conditions. Within two hours our spotter send us to a wonderful group of spotted dolphins, two Bryde’s whales, a group of Bottlenose dolphins and to an enormous Sperm whale bull (Physeter macrocephalus) that was resting at the surface between his deep foraging dives.
Phew! What a day! We definitely cannot complain about lack of variety this week!
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins
15:00 Bottlenose dolphins
10:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Unidentified toothed whales
14:00 Bottlenose dolphins, Bryde’s whales
17:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Bottlenose dolphins, Bryde’s whales, Sperm whale