Sightings Summary February 2020

An adult Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus) emerges next to Terra Azul boat.

 

Hello everybody, the longest February is over and it is time to sum up what we encountered in the waters of São Miguel Island. Luckily the weather gave us several chances to go out at sea and we had twenty-one encounters with cetaceans.

 

TerraAzul sightings on February 2020. Source: MONICET.

 

Similarly to January, the most sighted species was the Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis). Groups of 20-40 individuals were generally feeding in association with tunas (Thunnus spp.) and Yellow-legged gulls (Larus michahellis). Some mating pods were also observed and we even managed to film some mating attempts with our drone! Check the video HERE!

 

Some Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis) pods contained young calves, as the one captured by our skipper Tiago in this picture.

 

A Striped Dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) was sighted in a pod of Common Dolphins and it was the first individual of the species encountered this year. Such associations between the two species are not unusual in Azores. In another occasion, we spotted a Common Dolphin with a different coloration that could be the result of hybridization or a variation of pigmentation.

 

Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis) with different pigmentation. The usual beige-yellow spot on the side is light gray and faded.

 

Moreover, a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) was spotted while resting near the shores of Ribeira Quente.

 

Turning to whale species, our waters have been visited by seven different individuals of Fin Whales (Balaenoptera physalus), including a mother-calf pair. Although it is still early for the annual baleen whale migration, it is not so uncommon to have some of these animals passing through the Azores Archipelago in February. One individual was quite particular and presented an anomalous coloration. You can observe it also in our drone video HERE!

 

The adult Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus) with light grey coloration encountered this month off the coast of Vila Franca do Campo.

 

Loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) were encountered four times and we can confirm the return of Cory’s Shearwaters (Calonectris borealis) to São Miguel Island. One of the rafts also contained a Barolo Shearwater (Puffinus baroli) and we got visited by some juveniles Black-legged Kittiwake (Rissa trydactila).

 

Juvenile Black-legged Kittiwake (Rissa trydactila).

 

Spring is arriving and we cannot wait to see what it will bring us! 🙂

 

 

 

Lorenzo Fiori

About Lorenzo Fiori

Lorenzo is Main Guide and Technical & Scientific Director at TERRA AZUL. He is originally from Italy, holds a Science Master in Biology, and is completing PhD about behavioral responses of humpback whales to swim-with-whales tourism activities in Tonga.

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