02.06.2018 – Summer spectacle
Our French group got incredibly lucky this afternoon on our traditional boat. The Atlantic surprised us with no less than 4 different cetacean species sightings, three of which occurred practically at the same time.
The trip began with a rather evasive group of Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) close to Madalena do Mar. This herd seemed rather busy socializing and foraging, so we set off 4 nautical miles into the Atlantic to encounter Short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) which happened to be in the company of a large group of equally interactive Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis). As the two species rode our bow waves and charmed our lovely guests, we could make out the blow of a Tropical whale (Balaenoptera edeni) nearby. A number of dolphins started to follow the whale, indicating that the animals were probably hunting schooling fish together.
Foraging for food often brings several species together, as the presence and hunting strategies of one species may benefit that of the other cetaceans. Dolphins generally intimidate the fish and bring them closer to the surface which may benefit the lunge feeding behavior of the whale. This in turn atttracts several Cory’s Shearwaters (Calonectris borealis) that use the opportunity to join in the feast. While the actual feeding spectacle was not observed during our trip, we were nonetheless thrilled at these encounters and had the additional pleasure of observing three very young Loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta). What a wonderful end to the week and a fantastic start to the summer season!
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
15:00 Bottlenose dolphins, Short-beaked common dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins, Tropical whale, Loggerhead turtle