23.03.2018 – Swift pursuit
Hunting would be the word to collectively describe the behavior of the animals we encountered at sea today. Our spotter directed us slightly west of Calheta towards Jardim do Mar and Paul do Mar, where several Common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) were pursuing a large swarm of fish and were, as usual, accompanied by a large group of Cory´s shearwater (Calonectris borealis). While the marine birds were focused on following the cetaceans to get their mouthful of fish they were being closely watched by a gliding juvenile Skua, a predatory bird that often displays kleptoparasitic behavior by stealing fish from the unexpecting Corys or even killing and eating one of the marine birds. We then had a sighting of Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) hunting in close proximity to large Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares). These large predatory fish constituted the main attraction of the trip as they skimmed collectively on the waters surface in pursuit of their prey.
Both the Stenella and the Ribeira Brava went out in the afternoon and faced windier, harsher conditions out at sea. We headed 7 nautical miles further east, almost near Cabo Girao, in the afternoon in pursuit of dolphins and found the same two species of cetaceans as we did during the morning tour. Again, the animals were hunting and both species were quite dispersed over a large area, occasionally approaching our vessels with curiosity. The Ribeira Brava tour was particularly adventurous, our vigilant guests had to brave a couple of Atlantic showers on board as we headed upwind back to Calheta marina.
by Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Bottlenose dolphins, Common dolphins, Portuguese man-of-war, Yellowfin tuna
15:00 Bottlenose dolphins, Common dolphins, Portuguese man-of-war, Yellowfin tuna
15:00 Bottlenose dolphins, Common dolphins, Portuguese man-of-war