30.10.2019 – Sundance
The sun scorched down on Calheta today, warming the surface waters of the Atlantic in front of our marina. It almost felt like a midsummers day here in the southwest but the high swell was a stark reminder that it was in fact autumn. The absence of wind, however, prompted me to tell our guests to keep a sharp look out for turtles basking at the surface. Out in the open ocean, the effects of the high swell are more diluted allowing the animals to peacefully enjoy the sunshine as they bask at the surface. Surely enough, we managed to spot a total of 13 Loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) basking at the surface. The animals immediately dove as we approached them, underlining their timid nature which was completely contrasted by that of the Atlantic Spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) we met a little later on.
Spotted dolphins are notoriously interactive and approach our boats fearlessly, displaying a group dynamic seen in few other cetaceans. As they glide elegantly in the most synchronised fashion at our bow, it almost seems as if the animals are dancing below the surface. Its always a pleasure to encounter these seasonal visitors but as the waters get colder, their abundance gradually decreases. However, warm, sunny day like today proves that encounters with spotted dolphins can definitely still be expected!
After the sighting we moved on to search for Blainville’s beaked whales (Mesoplodon densirostris) that unfortunately had engaged in a deep, foraging dive and didn’t show up in time for our tour. As we returned to the marina the ocean surprised us with yet another impressive choreography. This time juvenile Atlantic flying fish (Cheilopogon melanurus) took the stage and hovered for some time at an incredible speed away from our zodiac, which they presumably mistook for an approaching predator.
The guests aboard our traditional boat this morning were also able to appreciate the Sundance of the spotted dolphins along with a school of the larger but equally charismatic Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus).
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Bottlenose dolphins
15:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Loggerhead turtles