What an epic morning trip we had today with our traditional boat! The colder north wind did bring some wind and waves, making the waters a little choppy outside Calheta and further west. Here in Madeira, however, the sun protrudes through whatever weather, leaving the island decorated with a series of rainbows, a perfect and adventurous backdrop for avid whale-watchers!
Our team didn’t have to search long to find animals. Our spotter, Silvíano, soon discovered a large group of Short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis). If any dolphin could come close to a colour palette of a rainbow here in Madeira, this is the species. These gorgeous dolphins can be recognised through an hourglass pattern decorating their flanks and this was easily visible with this big curious group. Dolphins are whales, since the word “whale” is the common term used for cetaceans, which encompasses both toothed whales (Odontoceti) and baleen whales (Mysticeti).
Fact is that currently 49 dolphin and porpoise species are known to exist and common dolphins belong to the first ever to be described! One of the best documented species here on the island, however, is the Short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhnychus). We met a large group of these formidable cetaceans in the deeper waters outside Calheta and the pod was swimming eastward. Despite not sporting the traditional dolphin-like appearance, pilot whales are in fact larger dolphins. The word “whale” in their name is attributed to their size.
It was a lovely and eventful morning with very happy guests, mission accomplished!
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
09:30 Short-beaked common dolphins, Short-finned pilot whales