Both our boats ventured far from the coast in search of animals today and the team aboard our Ribeira Brava had the pleasure of accompanying a school group with children to a small pod of Striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba). The brief sighting far out at sea meant we had a long way to go to get back to the marina and, to pass the time in the most fun way, our captain Pedro let a few of the kids drive the boat. The proud little ones enjoyed steering our beautiful boat back to land and it helped everyone withstand the hot, sunny conditions towards midday.
While every boat has one true captain, who is responsible for the vessel and all souls on board, dolphins are thought to have several. The concept of a leading animal is often a very dynamic affair with these smaller cetaceans, with the role circulating amongst the pod according to the situation. While some animals may assume this role in most situations, there may always be an occurrence where others can take charge. The fluidity of dolphin groups allows this to go very smoothly and the animals to consistently learn more about each other along the way. With Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) the social structure is a little different, particularly with females. They tend to remain in their birth pod, a group of matrilineal nature that often contains one older female leading the way. The older females of the pod are also responsible for transferring the culture and knowledge of the group down generations and the young ones are cared for by all members.
The Stenella managed a sighting with a large male Sperm whale both in morning and the afternoon. These ocean nomads make up for their lack of a social life in their enormous size and had our guests open-mouthed in awe as they raised their flukes to dive. An additional sighting with a few curious Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) wrapped up a nice afternoon aboard our zodiac. What a fantastic and truly eventful day!
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Striped dolphins
15:00 Sperm whales
10:00 Sperm whale, Striped dolphins
15:00 Sperm whale, Atlantic spotted dolphins