The correct approach to the sighting area is extremely decisive during a whale-watching tour and we aim to do so in a responsible and conscious manner. Our team does its very best to read the behavior of the animals and adjust to the given situation and their current activity. We aim to achieve passive encounters with the animals and to give them the time and space to approach us voluntarily. In doing so, we can ensure respectful observations and reduce disturbances to a minimum.
The amount of time we spend with the animals is also an important factor. As soon as they display a behavior indicating that we are no longer welcome, our boat moves on. This way, it is actually the animals who determine the duration of an encounter or whether it should occur at all. We are certain that it is only this way that we can keep these fascinating marine creatures around and continue observing them in future.
If the animals feel harassed or followed, the result would inevitably be that they would avoid Madeira’s waters and choose other regions. Local authorities have constituted a set of laws and regulations to protect and preserve the whales frequenting the archipelago.
We cooperate with local institutions and respect all the regulations and codes that benefit and protect the marine life around Madeira. Our long years of experience with these marine mammals also helps us in this undertaking.
Lobosonda began with the purchase of an old fishing boat in the year 2000: our beautiful “Ribeira Brava”. This traditional boat, one of the last of its kind, was rescued from being scrapped by Rafael Gomes, one of the founders of Lobosonda. In 2003, after 3 years of restoration, the Ribeira Brava set back out onto the Atlantic. And thus, Lobosonda was born, a small family business observing whales and dolphins that has now expanded to a larger, engaged crew ready to share moments with these magnificent animals.
The company name Lobosonda originates from two Portuguese words “Lobos” and “onda”. The word LOBOS comes from the fishing village of Câmara de Lobos, which had served as home to several monk seals (Lobos marinhos) in the past. It is also the place where our “Ribeira Brava” was rebuilt. ONDA is the Portuguese word for wave. The original motive to purchase the traditional boat was a decision that was actually based more on sentiment, rather than a business plan. Rafael Gomes, one of the founders of the company is the man behind the renovation of the “Ribeira Brava” which, besides leading to the preservation of this iconic fishing boat, turned him into an expert on the history, design and entire fishing culture surrounding such vessels.
During the 3 year reconstruction that took place in the bay of Câmara de Lobos, Rafael met the legendary “Sr. Luis”, an old fisherman that later became our captain. In 2003 the new “Ribeira Brava” was ready for action! We started with our trips to observe marine mammals from the newly-built marina of Calheta that is situated on the notoriously sunny and warm southwest coast of Madeira, a 30 minute car drive from the capital Funchal.
At the time, Calheta was still a quiet place not spoilt by mass tourism and, as more people started discovering the westside of the island, the Lobosonda business flourished. As the years went by, our fishing boat became a popular and successful whale-watching boat.
The high demand for trips prompted us to reinforce our fleet with yet another vessel. Our second boat, the zodiac “Stenella”, was added to the company in 2012 and was named after the Atlantic Spotted dolphins. With our services well-established and a fleet of 2 boats, it was now time to create a meeting point for our guests and, soon after, we opened our Info Center in the marina of Calheta. It was very important for us to provide not just our clients but all interested parties with resources both on land and on the boats.
Despite all additions and changes, Lobosonda has always remained true to the mission and principles that it had when it was founded in 2003. Our aim is to raise awareness about issues in the oceans and support its protection using the fascination for its inhabitants created by whale and dolphin watching.
@Harbor of Calheta
Since 2012 Lobosonda has a shop in the marina of Calheta, where you can learn more about us and also book your trip. Our team is always happy to help! Our Info Center at Calheta is not just an office and a meeting point, it also serves as our main channel of communication where the public can learn more about our work and how they can help protect the marine habitats and biodiversity around Madeira.
It is also an area of interaction, where our guides also give a short presentation before our trips, outlining safety procedures on board and possible sightings at sea. We also, provide resources including a small library and exhibitions of our photographs and posters.
The Center is also a shop, with attractive products and souvenirs including books, postcards, t-shirts and baseball caps.
We are RESPECTFUL whale watchers.
We never guarantee nature. Take it as it comes.
We are the guests out there.
Start each day with a grateful heart.
Be honest. Work for a cause, not for applause.
Breathe the ocean.
Make the world a better place in whatever way you can.
Take action! Be kind.
LOVE cetaceans. Taste the salt in the air.
The world is what you make of it.
BE GRATEFUL, always!