Azores: Still “Whitehead” group and sei whales, plus dolphins

The windy weather eventually passed and I have been back on the water the last few days.

On  26 August, despite it still being a bit windy, we braved the elements. The “Northern Ladies” turned up for the first time this year, in their usual location to the north of Faial. There is a calf with a white head in the group, so we now have a “Whitehead Junior”, not to be confused with “Whitehead” from a completely different group! We also had a mixed group of striped and common dolphin, but it was a bit windy for the camera to come out.

On 27 August the seas had calmed down quite a bit, so it was easier to observe the animals. In the morning, we had at least some of the same animals as yesterday to the north of Faial, including a fairly new baby that we hadn’t seen yesterday (but we didn’t see the mother either). In the afternoon, we went to the south of Pico, since the whales in the north had disappeared offshore too far for the vigia to see. “2578” of the Whitehead group was seen as well as a single milling sei whale and then a mother and calf sei whale. The calf was very interested in the boat, circling us several times, appearing unexpectedly behind us a couple of times. We also saw spotted dolphin in the morning and again in the afternoon, plus a large group of bottlenose dolphin with calves in the afternoon. We also came across the biggest sunfish that I have ever seen. The fin, looked like an orca dorsal cutting through the water!

On 28 August, we were once again to the north of the islands. A very nice surprise, when I looked at the photos. “1333” first seen in 1990 as well as “2906” and “2907” first seen in 2005. Unfortunately, the wind picked up and I was unable to get more photos of the group in the afternoon.

On 29 August, we started the morning out with a sei whale before heading on to the sperm whales. Surprise, surprise, the Whitehead group are still hanging around on the south of Pico! Westerly winds prevented us getting back out in the afternoon.

And finally on 30 August, we were back to the south of Pico, where, I think, the Whitehead group was waiting for us! There was also a sei whale feeding on fish alongside spotted dolphin. We ended the morning with a mixed group of striped and common dolphin. The striped dolphin doing what they do best, run away from the boat! In the afternoon, the vigia could not see the whales, which had headed towards Pico when we left them. We will have to try again.

The final news on the harp seal is that it was an old male, judging by the teeth, and had not been feeding for some time. The only thing in its stomach were stones. Stones are not unusual to find in the stomach of seals, because they can not chew their prey, the stones help to break down the fish they are eating.


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