Azores: the south of Faial strikes again!

The wind has been blowing quite hard from the north all last week and yesterday (Sunday) was the first chance to get out again. The lookout on the south of Pico only saw a few small groups of dolphin, so we decided to stay to the south of Faial, where the waves were a bit smaller than the north side. It was a good choice!

We found a co-operative group of common dolphin, including some very small calves, where you could still see the fetal folds. Fetal folds are the “zebra” like stripes formed from the baby dolphin being bent inside of the womb, before birth. The brighter the stripes, the younger the animal. These marks will fade after a few months.

Just after the dolphin, we saw the second loggerhead turtle of the day! Not in “Turtle Time” for those of you wondering! 🙂 After the turtle dived, we put the hydrophone in for the second time and got a surprise. We had already passed a group of sperm whales! So we headed back the way we came and after about five minutes, I spotted three animals surfacing not too far from the boat! Yes! Then a small calf popped up and joined them and then another two! There were six sperm whales at the surface, including two calves; one suckling and the other not. Two of the four adults had been photographed in 2015, the other two are new to science.

Luckily, they didn’t all dive at the same time; one, then two sequentially and finally the fourth adult left the surface. The small calf was left at the surface and the larger one had shallow dive. WOW!! Now we understood why we hadn’t heard them on the hydrophone the first time we listened, they had all been up at the surface at the same time! We followed their clicks and waited for a second showing of the flukes, just to make sure we got the ID photos. And once they had all gone again, it was time to start back towards the harbour.

We passed very close to the Morro, the big white rock that you have to avoid hitting when landing or taking off from Horta airport! It is very impressive. No more animals were spotted, but I will be going out again soon, tagging along with Rui & Monica from the University of the Azores again. This time, they are going to be trying to tag a sperm whale.

Weather looks good, let’s hope the animals are waiting for us. Today Monday, 8 June is World Oceans Day.

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