03.01.2019 – Hopeful beginnings
After a very windy and rainy transition into the new year, the weather conditions finally settled slightly and allowed us to set out to sea today for our usual search for cetaceans in Madeira’s waters. The strategic teamwork on the part of our spotter and skipper allowed us to kick off 2019 with a fabulous sighting this morning; a herd of rarely sighted Risso’s dolphins (Grampus griseus)! The large, white scarred-up cetaceans were spotted 4 nautical miles offshore and, upon approach, the calm group dispersed slightly to reveal a handful of small, grey calves. The calves seemed more inquisitive than their older peers and shyly approached us before being joined by the rest of the herd.
The situation was somewhat different during our sighting with the Striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba), who kept avoiding our zodiac despite the careful maneuverers of our captain. We did, however, get close enough to allow our guests to briefly admire the unique pattern decorating the flanks of these beautiful dolphins. In the afternoon, the guests aboard our Ribeira Brava received a warm welcome from a herd of curious Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), who repeatedly approached the bow of our traditional boat and glimpsed up at us. Sightings with Bottlenose dolphins are quite common around Madeira, particularly at this time of the year, but that doesn’t make them any less spectacular than encounters with any other marine mammals.
Whether curious or shy, rare or common; an encounter with any species of cetaceans in the wild is definitely a good way to kick-start the year. Our team wishes you all a happy new year, let’s see what surprises 2019 has in store for us! Watch this space!
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
14:30 Bottlenose dolphins
10:00 Risso’s dolphins, Striped dolphins