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The marine mammals of Madeira kicked off the week with spectacular hunting events, that were all admired from the deck of our traditional boat, the Ribeira Brava, today. Moreover, all sightings were located quite close to the coast of Calheta.
In the morning our spotter lead us to a huge group of Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) swiftly swimming to the west in a clearly coordinated hunt that was accompanied by several Corys shearwaters (Calonectris borealis). After admiring the power and agility of these partially resident dolphins, we moved on to the deep waters outside our marina to encounter a group of Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus).
It is impossible to observe these giant toothed whales as they forage and hunt for squid, since they dive to great depths to pursue their prey. Recently, however, scientists have managed to attach a specialized camera to a diving female hunting for squid, the first ever video footage of these deep-sea hunts. What we tend to observe are the resting intervals of the animals at the surface which are terminated by them raising their enormous flukes as they vertically plummet into the depths.
In the afternoon our traditional boat was surrounded by a herd of beautiful Short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) that were dispersed over a large area. These fast cetaceans are extremely agile hunters, with their surface behavior often providing our team with some clue to their prey. Today the hunting commons were probably after Halfbeaks (Belone belone), a pursuit during which these decorative dolphins often leap high out of the water.
For all those who are interested in the above mentioned Sperm whale video, can click on the following link: