A whale of a surprise

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This week was fairly regular in terms of sightings, seeing a few Sperm Whales, Common Dolphins, Bottlenose Dolphins and Atlantic Spotted Dolphins. Tours from the North Coast of the Island have also begun so Futurismo is now busier than ever, with most tours fully booked!

I had one day on the North coast which was a very different experience to usual, as there are many more Sperm Whales there. In fact, sighting them is almost guaranteed! We were lucky to have a baby quite close to the boat that was rather curiously looking at us!

I then spent the rest of the week back on the South Coast, and towards the end of the week I gave my first briefing on the boat! Usually we have about 75 tourists on board so it is quite a lot of people to talk to. The briefing involves going firstly going through all of the health and safety on-board as this is the priority, and then we go through a little more about the history of the Azores, the species that we can see and so on. The way that whales and dolphins are found here is by using vigias, lookouts on the land that use binoculars that can see up to 45km away! This technique is really important in the Azores as it was used in the whaling times and now has been adapted for whale watching, a great transition!

We must always explain that although we often see between 1-3 or even more cetacean species, we cannot always guarantee that we will see them. The animals are wild and we can never predict where they are going to be. Meeting expectations is a really important aspect of whale watching in whichever country you go to, but its far better trying to see them in the wild with the possibility of not seeing them, than going to see them in captivity.

On Friday, we had a real surprise. One of the smaller boats had spotted something unusual and told us where to go over radio, but they wouldn’t tell us what it was in order for it to be a surprise. We guessed that maybe it could be Pilot Whales or False Killer Whales; species that are seen occasionally here. However when we arrived, we were amazed to find that it was a Bryde’s Whale! These are large baleen whales, and what was so amazing is that the last time that Bryde’s Whales were seen in Sao Miguel was in 2013! They have now been spotted on almost every trip since, so it looks like they’re here to stay for a little bit.

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