20.01.2020 – Priorities
As a whale watching company, our challenge is to make our guests witnesses of the beauty of our oceans by providing them with lovely sightings involving the cetaceans that occur around the archipelago. Our priority, however, is keeping the well-being of the animals in mind while doing so. That being said, it made sense for us to leave the group of Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) after the designated amount of time despite how lovely the sighting was. The animals welcomed us with leaps and bow-riding onto the Atlantic and we were even able to spot some tiny calves within the pod.
The presence of calves in the school could be one reason why we actually had a sighting with these dolphins today. The warm-water-loving spotted usually leave the waters of Madeira at this time of the year and head for lower latitudes but taking on the stormy winter waters of the Atlantic is definitely not the priority for freshly baked dolphin mamas.
We decided to face the winds thrashing the Southwest with our zodiac while our spotter scanned the quieter waters further east to widen the search area. We were hoping to find some Northern Gannets (Morus bassanus) darting into the ocean to catch fish. These birds are frequently seen at this time of the year and generally enjoy accompanying dolphins during their hunting sprees. While we didn’t manage to witness one of these hunting situations, we were able to see two of these magnificent birds towards the end of our trip. Our lovely guests arrived back in Calheta with windswept hair and slightly salty clothes, but everyone genuinely enjoyed the ride. Mission accomplished!
By Paula Thake
Sighting of the day
10:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins