05.05.2018 – Similar tastes
Our morning tour began with a small group of Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) that seemed rather preoccupied with hunting and only approached our vessel a handful of times. Fair enough; understandably food is priority. Today probably Atlantic mackerel (S.colias) was on the menu, also known as Cavala in Portuguese. This pelagic schooling fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids and is therefore a beloved cooking fish, a taste which is unfortunately shared by several toothed cetaceans and other marine predators.This common taste for certain fish species has lead to an imbalance in marine food webs, prey depletion for large predatory fish and cetaceans and uncomfortable encounters between marine animals and fishermen. Bottlenose dolphins are even killed in some parts of the world because they are regarded as parasites by local fishermen.
We decided to let the animals hunt in peace and set out 4 miles into the Atlantic to a sighting involving very interactive Short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis). This large, dispersed group displayed all sort of behaviors including mating and hunting. Between socializing and fast hunts, the dolphins frequently approached our bow in small groups and elegantly rode the waves at our bow. This species boasts a somewhat healthy population in the Atlantic while in the Mediterranean it is highly endangered, which is largely due to prey depletion and unsustainable fishing methods.
We also encountered the same species during the afternoon tour where the conditions out at sea were slightly colder. This did not dampen the mood on board one bit; the guests really enjoyed the company of the animals and listened attentively as I explained their social behavior.
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Bottlenose dolphins, Short-beaked common dolphins
Bottlenose dolphins, Short-beaked common dolphins