We use to say that going out on the Ocean is not like entering a zoological garden with animal species exposed in a rational order. This is indeed true but some days it feels that everything has been prepared for us like in a living museum.
Today we had just left the Marina of Vila Franca do Campo and the scene awaiting for our guests and crew was already set: hundreds of hungry shearwaters were diving from the sky in several patches of schooling fish patiently herded by Atlantic Spotted Dolphins (Stenella frontalis). As many feeding frenzies were taking place all around us, we could recognize three different species of shearwaters: Cory’s (Calonectris borealis), Great (Puffinus gravis) and Manx Shearwaters (Puffinus puffinus).
As we cruised to the East, many more bird aggregations were stretching all along the coast and more dolphins, this time Common Dolphins (Delphinus delphis) were on the hunt, this time in company of Yellowfin Tunas (Thunnus albacares)! This is species is easily recognizable from the bright yellow, elongated second dorsal fins (which give them their English name), and that often emerge at the surface during feeding frenzies.
Our land observers advised that sea conditions were still prohibitive in offshore waters but there was no need to go too far to find yet another species. A pod of oceanic Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) was slowly cruising along the coast and we could spot a newborn with its mother! While following the dolphins, we literally stumbled across a quite large juvenile Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta). The reptile was not bothered at all from our presence and gave several close looks at us before to decide to dive and disappear in the depths.
It is always comforting to witness such a huge amount of diverse marine wildlife thriving just outside of our harbor! 🙂