As we left the harbour at 09:00, our fourth day at sea started as others had, but with no hint of what was to come.
Not long out of harbour, heading along the south coast of Faial, we’d already encountered common dolphins, loggerhead turtles and some Risso’s dolphins, very much following the broad pattern of previous days. The first shout of “blow” was for a fin whale – again in keeping.
But after one, came three fin whales. The day was improving. Having documented those, we headed towards the next ‘blow’ sighted by Ralf. This was associated with three whales seemingly resting at the surface, and whilst they dived before we reached them, the expert consensus was that they were a species of beaked whale – a new find for this expedition.
That set the tone, as we then located a minke whale with calf – another new find for 2016. A species not commonly recorded in the Azores, as it is hard to see, and locating one with a calf is a real bonus. Following that trend, our next fin whale sighting was also with a calf. Such data at its simplest level demonstrates the importance of Azorean waters for many cetacean species.
We’d barely reached early afternoon at this point, so we continued west of Faial in pursuit of sperm whales. This quest was interrupted by a pod of bottlenose dolphins. And our photographer for the day (Dominique) demonstrated her skills in capturing their aerial acrobatics as the dolphins entertained all on the boat.
We quickly refocused to document several more sperm whale encounters, and record the flukes for later identification. And we still had time for another fin whale and more turtles.
We returned to dry land after 17:00, having sailed over 100 miles and recorded multiple individuals of 7 cetacean species (3 dolphins and 4 whale species) and 7 turtles in one day!
We probably all have to work 9-to-5 at some point in our lives; but as days at the ‘office’ go, in the words of our German team members, this was “not so bad”!
I wonder what they call a good day…….?
Update from our volunteer vacation / conservation holiday protecting whales, dolphins and turtles around the Azores archipelago