On every trip we go on, we make sure people know, that we are entering nature, the habitat of wild animals. Fully unpredictable, and this element of the unknow is certainly part of the charm. The possibility to see something real or unexpected. Of course, we have statistics, we have experience, we our spotter, the eye in the sky that tells us where to go and what we might see there, nevertheless you never know when something happens that sets the day apart.
The striped dolphins (Stenella Coeruleoalba) acted as we expect from them, the beautiful striped pattern on their sides are seen when they leap forward out the water picking up speed, however, as is usual with this species here in Madeira, they move as a group and leap away from any boat, so the striped patterns can be a bit tricky to catch if you aren’t quick since they can rapidly put a distance between us and them.
The bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), larger than the striped dolphin and with an even grey colour is less predictable, as some times they approach the boat and other times they stay at a distance, they are often seen here on Madeira, traveling together with Short finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus)leading us to wonder to what degree they can actually understand each other.
There was an unusual sighting today with a group of Pilot whales, however it was not a happy event. A whale was seen carrying the corpse of a calf, keeping it at the surface and pushing it along. This type of grieving has been observed before in cetaceans and even though it is a horrible sight, it is a part of life, a reminder of nature’s harsh reality. In the wild animals face al sorts of threats, we do not know what might have been the cause of this death. This grieving process can take over a week, as the mother pushes the corpse with her. Sad as it might be, this emotional response is a true testament to the bonds they share, it might be interpreted as proof that they are not just animals, but much more like us than some people might be comfortable to admit.
By Scott Dorssers
Sightings of the day
13:30 Bottlenose dolphin, Pilot whale
15:30 Striped dolphin, Bottlenose dolphin, Pilot whale