26.02.2019 – Faces in the ocean
After a long search our team got lucky today; a group of Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) was swimming swiftly alongside a group of Short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) today. Several juvenile animals could be seen in both groups, as the animals occasionally lifted their heads high above the choppy waves to breathe properly and inspect their surrounding environment. Clearly, we are not the only keen observers out on the ocean.
Both these species are well-documented by scientists here in Madeira by means of photo-identification catalogues. These catalogues are lists of individual cetaceans that can be identified through certain characteristics, for example through the knicks and scratches on their dorsal fin. This specific characteristic is a reliable long-term marking which is widely used to monitor the population dynamics of most cetacean species. Scientists, however, keep trying to expand the characteristics that can be used by this non-invasive tool.
Facial features in resident Bottlenose dolphins in the Adriatic have recently aided researchers in the area in recognizing young calves. The young animals do not yet posess the „nicks“ important for identification in their dorsal fins and are more likely to raise their heads above the water. Analysing facial features and using them for identification may help understand the different social structures by this species around the world.
It’s always good to be up to date with the latest identification methods and our team does its very best to help researchers on the island gain as much information as possible on the animals. We were complimented on this aspect by some guests on board today and are ever grateful for such praise; it shows that our hard work is appreciated! Thank you!
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Bottlenose dolphins, Short-finned piot whales