The morning started as a bit of a challenge, with many cetacean species moving around the waters of Madeira, were never quite sure which one we find, until we go out and see for ourselves. This morning we found the Striped dolphins (Stenella Coeruleoalba), a species that often impresses with it’s jumping behaviour and beautiful stripe pattern. Unlike Mediterranean populations, which are said to approach boats, the striped dolphins around Madeira are what we might call challenging. For those who would like to test their skills in wildlife photography, trying to get a good shot of our striped dolphin’s pattern might be an interesting objective. Their characteristic travelling style, jumping forward helps them pic up speed, since the air has les resistance than water and they may use that speed whenever they see a boat.
We also saw some Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), a fantastic friendly species, varying in behaviour, but when they get close their impressive size is clear to all. Additionally, a group of Short finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) appeared later today, and amongst them an individual with a notable white back. Pilot whales do have a lighter pattern on their belly and backs, but usually it is a light grey tint. This individual was so easily distinguished that our captain recognised it from previous years. A returning visitor and absolute delight to see.
Other than cetaceans, something interesting was found adrift at sea today on one of our trips, a by-the-wind sailor (Velella Velella) a beautiful bring blue hydrozoan colony, it may look like a single organism, but Is in fact a large amount of specialised polyps, each performing a function, some form the sail, some form the tentacles that feed on plankton and so on. It’s adrift at sea, using it’s sail for movement, feeding and reproducing asexually, producing 1mm jellyfish. These offspring of these jellyfish will be by-the-wind sailor again, in a system we call alternation of generations.
By Scott Dorssers
Sightings of the day
13:30 Striped dolphin,
09:00 Striped dolphin, Bottlenose dolphin
12:00 Striped dolphin,
15:30 Bottlenose dolphin, Short finned pilot whale