26.04.2019 – Short & sweet
This morning both our boats enjoyed sightings with two very different but equally beautiful species of dolphin; the shy Striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba) and the curious Short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis), that were also sighted during the afternoon trip. All sightings proved what we often mention during our briefings; apart from our careful and attentive approach to the animals, the quality of the sighting also depends on the species and current mood of the animals.
The Striped dolphins are an oceanic species which rarely come into contact with boats and therefore tend to display an evasive behaviour towards them. They often occur in nursery groups around Madeira and reside here to rest or feed in the sheltered, deep waters near the coastline. Todays encounter was infact with a nursery group with several little calves the size of bowling pins, swiftly leaping amongst the larger animals. The presence of so many little calves may have been an additional reason for the evasive behaviour of this pod.
While the Striped can be seen here all year long, the Commons tend to be more abundant during the winter months with only a handful of animals remaining close in the waters around the flower island in summer. In contrast to the striped, however, common dolphins are notorious for being very curious and often approach our boats during trips. While such interactive behaviour was also anticipated this morning, the group of commons was also full of little calves and already being observed by another whale-watching boat as we arrived at the sighting. The school instantly avoided our boat and the animals sped east as we arrived, which prompted us to let the animals be and head back to the marina. Despite this brief encounter, our guests were not at all disappointed. After all, they saw baby dolphins and the caution on the part of the adult dolphins was completely understandable and had too be respected. In the afternoon the group of commons consisted mainly of adult animals and also seemed a lot more interested in an interaction with our boat. The decorative dolphins accompanied our zodiac for some time before devoting their time to other activities.
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Short-beaked common dolphins, Striped dolphins
10:00 Short-beaked common dolphins, Striped dolphins, Loggerhead turtle
15:00 Short-beaked common dolphins