Azores: Whitehead & striped dolphins racing

Today is the holiday of São João in the Azores (St John’s). Usually there is a big festival up by the chapel on the way to the caldeira. Not this year.

We had a lovely sunny day, even if there was a bit more breeze than forecast. We headed once again to the south of Pico, since the vigia had spotted a couple of groups of sperm whales there. We started off the lighthouse at São Mateus and arrived just after one whale had fluked, so we had to wait a bit for the next one to surface.

It was worth the wait, because as she dove, I identified her as 2578, who is part of the “Whitehead” group, one of our very well known groups of sperm whales. Unfortunately, she was heading into the wind and waves, so we decided to head towards the other groups further down the coast. But as we were about to leave, another whale surfaced. This time it was “2776”. It looks like she may be pregnant, since her shape was a bit “rounder” than normal. This would make sense, since her last calf was born in 2014 and they have a calf about every six years. Hopefully we will see a calf soon. “Whitehead” herself will have to wait for another day.

On the way to the other group of sperm whales, we came across a group of striped dolphin. They were not very interested in the boats and decided to go off at speed. This behaviour gives us the opportunity to get some amazing photos as they go. We do not chase the animals to get them to do this behaviour. Just before the dolphins, we spotted a loggerhead turtle basking at the surface.

Then it was time for some more sperm whales. There were two groups, one closer to the coast and one further offshore. We stopped by the offshore group and got two flukes before it was time to head for home. This group I do not know off the top of my head, so will have to run them through the matching program.

The weather looks good, so hopefully we will be out a few more times in the next few days. Maybe will even photograph “Whitehead’s” fluke!

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