12.11.2018- Blue Steel
The ocean is an ever-changing ecosystem and while many of these changes are far from obvious, the colour and texture of the water surface can change spectacularly with changing weather and light conditions. The way the beautiful blue colour of the ocean changes throughout the course of day has always fascinated me. In the morning the ocean is a deep-fresh blue before changing into a more metallic colour as the afternoon progresses, which climaxes into a golden shimmer when the sun sets. The texture of the ocean surface changes with the weather conditions, with stronger winds and waves bringing more movement, making her look alive. As we set off on our afternoon tour aboard the Stenella today, the ocean looked metallic and rather turbulent, with strong gusts of wind constantlty interrupting the surface.
The wind wasn’t the only force breaking the steel-blue surface of the Atlantic. The enormous globe-shaped heads of Short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) that were swiftly moving west near Cabo Girao caught the eagle-eyes of our sensational spotter, Carlos, who then directed our captain, Daniel, towards the animals. In their usual strategic manner, they efficiently placed the Stenella close to the whales path so the animals would move past us. The swimming of pilot whales also seems to change with weather conditions. When the surface is calm they rest at the surface and move lethargically. On wavy days, the animals travel faster and lift their heads high above the surface in order to breathe properly. While these sightings are usually more brief due to the swift speed of the animals, they are nothing short of spectacular.
After the encounter, Daniel masterfully maneuvered our zodiac back to the marina as a beautiful full rainbow formed along the coastline. The scenic romance was occasionally interrupted by some bumpy waves and the inevitable spray of water into the boat. Thankfully the Stenella was full of good sports who enjoyed every minute of the adventure!
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
15:00 Short-finned pilot whales