The Azores
Species Guide

THE AZORES
MARINE SPECIES INTRO

When is the best time to see whales and dolphins in the Azores?

The answer depends on which species you would like to see. In general, the best time of the year to see whales in the Azores is during the Spring time, with April and May being our strongest months. During this time we have many fin whales, blue whales and sei whales passing the Azores on their annual migration.

We occasionally also encounter minke whales and humpback whales, although they are not as common as the other 3 baleen whale species.

If you want to see our iconic whale species, the sperm whale, you could visit any time of the year, although during the summer months you have a higher chance of seeing them. Similarly, the summer is also the best time to see (and swim with) dolphins, as during this time we have more dolphin species in the area and the groups tend to be larger with many calves present.

Futurismo operates all throughout the year, so if you prefer to avoid the busiest times and if you are not a fan of the warm summer weather than you can always visit during the winter months, as we have 4 species (common dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, Risso’s dolphin and sperm whale) that are resident to the Azores and hence can be sighted all throughout the year.

STRIPED DOLPHIN

Stenella coeruleoalba

STRIPED DOLPHIN

Striped dolphins have unique markings with a distinct stripe pattern running along the length of both sides of the body. 

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SPERM WHALE

Physeter macrocephalus

SPERM WHALE

Sperm whales can be seen year round in the Azores, and have become the iconic species in this area.

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SEI WHALE

SEI WHALE

The Sei whale is the least known of the rorqual family and can easily be confused with other species

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ROUGH-TOOTHED DOLPHIN

Steno bredanensis

ROUGH-TOOTHED DOLPHIN

The rough-toothed dolphin gets its name from the thin vertical wrinkles that run down the length of their teeth. 

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RISSOS DOLPHIN

Grampus griseus

RISSOS DOLPHIN

Risso’s dolphins are distinguished by their robust build, rounded head and extensive white body scars.

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PILOT WHALE

Globicephala spp.

PILOT WHALE

Pilot whales are divided into two different species: short-finned (Globicephala macrorhynchus) and long-finned (Globicephala melas). 

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ORCA / KILLER WHALE

Orcinus orca

ORCA / KILLER WHALE

Orcas (also known as killer whales) are the largest members of the dolphin family. 

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NORTHERN BOTTLENOSE WHALE

Hyperoodon ampullatus

NORTHERN BOTTLENOSE WHALE

The northern bottlenose whale is one of the best-studied species in the beaked whale family. 

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MINKE WHALE

Balaenoptera acutorostrata

MINKE WHALE

Minke whales are the smallest and most abundant of the rorquals (baleen, or filter feeding whales, with throat pleats).

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HUMPBACK WHALE

Megaptera novaeangliae

HUMPBACK WHALE

Humpback whales are distinguished by their long pectoral and by their knobbly head.

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FIN WHALE

Balaenoptera physalus

FIN WHALE

Fin whales are the second largest animals in the world and the most frequently encountered baleen whale species in the Azores.

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FALSE KILLER WHALE

Pseudorca crassidens

FALSE KILLER WHALE

The false killer whale got its name because it shares similar characteristics with the orca, although they are not directly related. 

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DWARF & PYGMY SPERM WHALE

Kogia sima | Kogia breviceps

DWARF & PYGMY SPERM WHALE

Dwarf sperm whales and pygmy sperm whales are the only two species that belong to the Dogiidae family.

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CUVIER’S BEAKED WHALE

Ziphius cavirostris

CUVIER’S BEAKED WHALE

Cuvier’s beaked whales are among the most widely distributed of all the beaked whales.

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COMMON DOLPHIN

Delphinus delphis

COMMON DOLPHIN

Common dolphins are strikingly marked with a distinct yellow and grey hourglass pattern along their sides. 

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BRYDE’S WHALE

Balaenoptera edeni

BRYDE’S WHALE

The Bryde’s whale is also known as the tropical whale because it is the only baleen whale species that lives year-round in warmer tropical waters.

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BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN

Tursiops truncatus

BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN

The bottlenose dolphin is the most well known of all the dolphins and is unfortunately most often chosen for the captive industry).

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BLUE WHALE

Balaenoptera musculus

BLUE WHALE

Blue whales are the largest animals in the world and can easily be detected from great a distance.

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BEAKED WHALE

Mesoplodon spp.

BEAKED WHALE

The beaked whale family is made up of at least 21 species. In the Azores we can see six different species.

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ATLANTIC SPOTTED DOLPHIN

Stenella frontalis

ATLANTIC SPOTTED DOLPHIN

Spotted dolphins are characterised by their colouration and patterns of spots which vary with geographical location and age. 

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