Sightings Summary May 2019

A Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus) encountered by Terra Azul guests and crew off the shores of Vila Franca do Campo, São Miguel Island.


Hello whale-watchers!

Also this month we had a really high number of sightings and 11 (ELEVEN!!!) different cetacean species encountered by our visitors. I cannot even fit them all in the map key! 🙂


TerraAzul sightings on May 2019. Source: MONICET.


Common Dolphins (Delphinus delphis) were once again the most frequently sighted species, but not as much as during April. We might have been “distracted” by the abundance of whales! 😉


Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis) mother and calf. Also this month we spotted several “nursing groups”. Interestingly, some individuals of Striped Dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) have been sighted in pods of Common Dolphins and seem to be fully accepted by the group!


That is, the second most sighted cetaceans were Sperm Whales (Physeter macrocephalus) and we had a total of 33 encounters with migratory baleen whales, including Fin Whales (Balaenoptera physalus), Blue Whales (Balaenoptera musculus), Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), and Sei Whales (Balaenoptera borealis), in order of number of sightings.

Whales were sometimes observed feeding, and you can have an idea of what I mean checking one of our recent posts here!, but also socializing, even between different species in one occasion! We were delighted to encounter so many mother-calf pairs and we hope that it is a good sign for the whale populations that are still recovering after being severely depleted by industrial whaling.


Breaching Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) sub-adult. The meaning of this behavior is still under debate, as explained in another post that we recently posted on our blog.


Going back to our so called “resident” species, we had the first encounters of the year with Risso’s Dolphins (Grampus griseus) and you can learn more about this amazing species in another post of ours :). Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) were also sighted in a number of occasions and were extremely active, both vocally and … sexually!

Finally, for the third month in row we “checked” our BEAKED WHALE and BLACKFISH boxes! Blainville’s Beaked Whales (Mesoplodon densirostris) confirmed to be our most frequently encountered representative of this poorly known group of cetaceans, and Short-Finned Pilot Whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) recently surprised us with a large pod of about 60 individuals filled with calves!


An adult of Short-Finned Pilot Whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus) porpoises on the side of Terra Azul boat.


The Ocean is always full of surprises here in São Miguel Island!!!

Lorenzo Fiori

About Lorenzo Fiori

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

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