30.06.2019 – Attention seekers
Today our traditional boat set off onto a placid ocean accompanied by a lot of sunshine, prompting many of our guests to use some of our snazzy sombreros on board. These summery conditions were soon complemented with a sighting of our charming summer dolphins, the Atlantic Spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis). Being small delphinids, this species often occurs in larger groups and their typical interactive nature often means that our boats are completely surrounded by them during an encounter. Today the situation wasn’t any different; the spotted leapt swiftly around the bow of our Ribeira Brava, gleefully gliding to and fro.
Amongst a school of dolphins, there often is one individual breaching, that is leaping high into the air and landing on its side or back. Today, this was a young juvenile animal that was travelling in the centre of the group. Before a breach, the animal accelerates its swimming below the surface and lunges into the air exposing at least 40% of its body. In this case the juvenile leapt entirely out of the water, but it is often not just the lunge defining the breach but the impact of the animal with the surface.
The more body surface area hits the ocean surface, the louder the breach which prompted scientists to consider breaches as a form of communication. Better said, breaches are a good way for dolphins to quickly grasp the attention of their peers. They may use it to attract attention to themselves, to for example initiate a change in direction during hunting which may be advantageous for the whole pod. A breaching could also stand as a warning for intruders or danger. Amongst the dolphins, Scott managed to even sport a large Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares). Probably the fish hoped to gain some feeding opportunities by accompanying the cetaceans and it’s written in the stars whether its presence actually bothered the dolphins.
Of course, the dolphin may have simply been an attention seeker, breaching to impress all its peers. Well, I don’t call the charismatic spotted dolphins posers for nothing, every encounter with them spells showtime and allows us to make some breathtaking pictures of the animals.
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Atlantic Spotted dolphins