07.03.2020 – White and blue
The incredible diversity offered to us during our whale-watching trips in Madeira often leaves us spoilt for choice. On some days, however, the waters outside the Southwestern coast seem barren and make our spotter’s job of locating animals for our guests very hard. After a long search during this morning’s tour aboard the Ribeira Brava, we were very lucky to come across a pod of Striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba) around 3 nautical miles off the coast of Paul do Mar. The animals were speeding westward and were only visible through the synchronised splashes at the surface as they darted away. Then one animal breached close to the boat, allowing crew and guests to confirm the species and giving us a short glimpse of these beautiful dolphins.
The word coeruleoalba is a reference to the colour decorating their flanks, a beautiful melange of white and blue which is very defined in some dolphins but seems grey/white in younger animals. Striped dolphins also have very pink bellies and are rather stumpy, making their calves look like little almonds with fins as they leap high above the surface. These highly pelagic dolphins are notoriously timid and often actively avoid our boats so catching a glimpse of them can be quite a challenge. Well, our guests did not take this evasive behaviour personally and went on to enjoy the cruise aboard our beautiful wooden boat back to the marina as I explained a few things about the biology of these animals.
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Striped dolphins