Hello whale watchers,
We have entered the autumn season and have left the summer days long behind us. So it is time to sum up our sightings during the summer months of 2021!
The month of June was overall a great month for the “Big Four” of the Azores. We encountered Sperm Whales (Physeter macrocephalus) during 70% of our whale watching tours. With a total of 34 encounters they were the most frequently seen cetacean species on our tours. Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), Common Dolphins (Delphinus delphis) and Risso’s Dolphins (Grampus griseus) were the next most commonly sighted species [27, 15 and 10 encounters respectively].
June also brought us excellent views of several seasonal and occasional dolphin species. As expected with the start of summer, the migratory Atlantic Spotted Dolphins (Stenella frontalis) were increasingly seen on our tours. We also continued seeing Short-Finned Pilot Whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus). The season for the migratory Blue Whales (Balaenoptera musculus) and Fin Whales (Balaenoptera physalus) came to an end; they were not encountered after May. We are looking forward to next year’s Migratory Baleen Whale season with great excitement! However, as we well know, it is still possible to see baleen whales in the Azorean summer: we found two Sei Whales (Balaenoptera borealis) and even a Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae).
The sighting statistics of July and August show a trend that is characteristic for summer in the Azores: Atlantic spotted dolphins showing up in greater and greater numbers, and basically taking over our tours! After arriving earlier than last year (in late May), the number of encounters rose from 12 in June, to 37 in July and to 55 in August. They are welcome summer visitors for our whale watchers, and they remain our favourite summer delight! Common dolphins were also frequently seen [37 encounters in July, 33 encounters in August]. In contrary, we started seeing less bottlenose dolphins [11 encounters in July, 9 encounters in August]. Risso’s dolphins and striped dolphins were seen in both months, with the biggest number of Risso’s dolphin sightings in August [22 encounters]. In terms of large whale species, sperm whales and sei whales together were observed during 52% and 69% of our tours in July and August respectively. A third large whale species was seen in August: we had one encounter with a Bryde’s Whale (Balaenoptera edeni).
Sightings of beaked whales were few and far between [9 encounters], but we did manage to find four different species. In June we observed Blainville’s Beaked Whales (Mesoplodon densirostris), in July the Sowerby’s Beaked Whales (Mesoplodon bidens) and Northern Bottlenose Whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus), and in August the Cuvier’s Beaked Whale (Ziphius cavirostris).
Keep an eye on our social media channels and blog. Before you know it, we will release our Sightings Summary of Autumn 2021!