24.01.2019 – Planing in winter
It was our first day of work after the temporary closing of the Calheta marina, so things were a little outside the norm but change never catches off guard since our team is already used to handling challenges out at sea. Today, however, the weather conditions made things easy for us out on the ocean as if to make up for the changes made on land. In fact the impeccable conditions made it almost feel like a summers day. Upon making that remark to Daniel, our skipper, he replied „You’ll feel that it’s winter when we’re planing“.
Surely enough, as the Stenella sped up we all zipped up our jackets and put on our hats to withstand the chilly wind before encountering a group of Short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis). These small delphinids are one of two species of cetaceans that are also encountered in the water by our team during snorkeling trips. Today our „winter dolphins“ were as interactive as ever, with some showing off their decorative flanks as they leapt high into the air near our zodiac. Others flaunted their exceptional hunting skills before nibbling at the ball of fish and occasionally inquisitively approaching the boat.
Our spotter then discovered yet another group of small delphinids around 8 nautical miles offshore and, of course, we sped out to investigate. It seems the summer conditions had attracted other familiar visitors to the archipelagos waters. A large group of around 120 Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) swiftly came to meet us out in the open ocean. These are the second species of dolphins we go snorkeling with and are easily the most interactive cetacean species that can be encountered in Macaronesia. In contrast to the commons, however, the spotted tend to prefer warmer waters and are more abundant during the summer months.
Both these species are an absolute pleasure to meet, both in and out of the water and our guests were overjoyed about sightings with such charming creatures. For all the avid snorkelers out there; if you’re considering getting into the water with cetaceans, now’s the time. Our team is eager and ready and, clearly, so are the dolphins…
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Short-beaked common dolphins