It is refreshing how diverse and varied an observation of marine mammals can be. It is never the same, it is always different. What we include in our data are different factors. In addition to the species / group size / number of calves etc., interaction with the boat or keeping a distance is also included in the sighting data. Another factor is the behavior of the animals, including one another. Today, these were diverse.
In the morning, we were greeted by a large school of the Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis). We observed many behaviors. When we got to the sighting area, these little dolphins were still hunting, but after that there was time for other activities. So we witnessed mating behavior; ride bow waves; Surfing waves; Socialize; Flapping with the tail, sometimes while swimming on the back and leaps. After a while, their behavior changed. While they were still in a larger area at the beginning, at the end of our sighting they travelled towards Funchal.
A marlin’s fight with a big game fisherman was less pleasant to watch. For an animal lover, this is unbearable and incomprehensible.
Afterwards we had Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the mood to show us their best leaps and resting Short-finned Pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) that crossed the paths of the Ribeira Brava a few times and could be observed very close to the boat.
In the afternoon, we slipped from one sighting to the next through the brilliant blue.
A school of Short-beaked Common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) made the start. These beautiful animals look like a work of art from nature. They headed east and risked a look at our boat.
In the large group of Short-finned Pilot whales, there were quite different activities. While most of the adults were resting, a group of three juveniles preferred to socialize and seek contact with our Ribeira Brava.
In the school of the Atlantic spotted dolphins, consisting of 200 or more animals, things were lively. Surfing, communication, leaps, touching, mating behavior, newborns were nursed, synchronized swimming and bow wave swimming training for many, many, many newborns were on the agenda.
You see, today we were able to observe diverse facets of behaviors during our encounter with the marine mammals. What all marine mammals showed in common activity today was making our guests happy. In a small excerpt from our review sheet, I have ticked the collected behaviors for you. I had to add three more categories. Have I forgotten something?
By Fatima Kutzschbach
Sightings of the day
10:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Pilot whales, Bottlenose dolphins
15:00 Common dolphins, Pilot whales, Atlantic spotted dolphins