06.10.2017 – The brainy Bottlenose
We sped off this morning on the Stenella in search of our snorkeling dolphins; the Atlantic Spotted dolphins and Common dolphins. Portugese law only permits us to swim with these two species and, although we unfortunately weren’t able to find any, our guests were delighted to have a wonderful sighting with two groups of Bottlenose dolphins.
These dolphins are residents here in Madeira and are also the largest dolphin species that can be encountered around the archipelago. One can come across both the local, smaller light-grey coastal types as well as the larger, darker oceanic Bottlenose dolphins in the waters surrounding the island. An attribute of this species that simply cannot be overlooked is its intelligence and the inquisitive approach of these animals to our boat reflected their sophisticated nature. A creature’s intelligence is currently quantified using the encephalization quotient which measures the ratio of brain mass in relation to body mass while taking the energy expenditure of the organ into account. Bottlenose dolphins rank third on this scale after humans and the estuarine Tucuxi. Considering this and the proven self-awareness of the animals using mirror tests just makes the notion of understanding this animal an all the more formidable task.
We made eye contact with some of the oceanic animals at the bow of our boat, only separated from their massive habitus by the ocean’s surface. We are so closely related but obviously still have so much to learn.
by Paula Thake
10:00 Bottlenose dolphins, Bryde’s Whale, Pilot Whales
10:00 Bottlenose dolphins, Bryde’s Whale