Sightings Summary January 2020

A subadult Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) slowly cruises along the South Coast of São Miguel Island.

 

Bom dia Whale-Watchers and Benvindos in twenty-twenty!

This new year has started really well in terms of cetacean sightings in the waters of Vila Franca do Campo. We encountered seven different species of whales and dolphins, and – surprise – several migratory ones that were not really expected in this time of the year!

 

Terra Azul Sighting Board for January 2020.

 

Large aggregations of Common Dolphins (Delphinus delphis) were sighted during all the trips, mainly foraging on mackerels (Scombrus spp.) together with Yellow-legged Gulls (Larus michahellis) and a few Cory’s Shearweaters (Calonectris borealis). In one occasion, a large school of Albacore Tuna (Thunnus alalunga) joined the feeding frenzy right next to us! We also had encounters with Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), our largest ‘resident’ species of dolphin.

 

Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis) herding mackerels (Scombrus spp.) next to Terra Azul boat.

 

A large adult Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) leaps completely out of the water in front of Terra Azul boat.

 

Turning to whales, we could spend some time with a matriarchal pod of Sperm Whales (Physeter macrocephalus), including two calves accompanied by their mothers, just off the coast of Povoação. In addition, also this month we had a good encounter with a Blainville’s Beaked Whale (Mesoplodon densirostris), this time a single adult male, not too far from the shore of Vila Franca do Campo.

However, 2020 surprise was an unusual sighting rate of baleen whales in winter time: a Sei Whale (Balaenoptera borealis) was the first whale spotted this year, followed by at least 4 subadult Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), and even a Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus) appeared in our waters. One day we could  have a look at all these three species in a single morning tour!

 

Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus) travelling East alongside the South Coast São Miguel Island.

 

Finally, we encountered several juveniles of Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta) and one of them had also a fish as travelling companion!

 

Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta) with a Trigger fish (Balistes carolinensis).

 

Hoping for some good weather in February and to the next sighting report! 🙂

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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