Tuesday was a special team day. Our biologists’ team went out to the sea once again on a “scientific” trip to discover more about the sounds that we can find in the Azores waters. The day started with the right foot – an excellent sea, an enthusiastic team, and an immensity of materials.
From hydrophones to a recorder, GPS, and cameras, from a feces net to our cephalopod collection kit, nothing could be left behind, we never know what are we going to find! And the Azores waters proved this to us once again.
As soon as we started our trip, we were pleased with a very special group of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), a group very well known in the waters of São Miguel for their curiosity.
How do we know it is this group? Because there are a few individuals that our biologists’ team knows very well. One of them is “Egyptian”, an adult female which dorsal fin looks like an Egypt Pyramid. We sighted around 70 individuals and among them, there were several calves and juveniles.
As this trip was the follow up of the one we did two weeks ago, to test equipment and methodologies of cetacean sounds recording, we took the opportunity to launch our hydrophone in the water. And we can say it looked like we were attending a talent show – we were able to hear an astonishing amount of different sounds, some of them, we have never heard before! Also, this group of bottlenose dolphins was so curious about our hydrophone that was doing loops around it. How cool is that? They all wanted to be the star of our recordings!
We had an amazing time with these dolphins, and we were able to record them twice. But, in the meantime, our lookout spotted a sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) blow. Of course we went there as fast as we could… we couldn’t lose this opportunity! Soon after we got close to the area where this whale was, we saw its tail. This means that this animal went for a feeding dive, and thus for us it meant time to record! All the team got into positions and started recording.
The first clicks were heard very well, but as the sperm whale got deeper, the more clicks we were able to hear. More, and more, and more… There was probably a sperm whale party in the ocean because the number of different clicks that we were able to hear was incredible!
While recording this animal we observed a big splash in the background … we couldn’t believe it!! A sperm whale breaching!!
When females dive to great depths to find food, the young ones stay on the surface with other females or even alone … and this youngster was showing its lack of patience due to its mother’s delay – it wouldn’t stop jumping! As we finish recording our first sperm whale, we moved the boat a bit closer to the place where we saw the young sperm whale jumping. And once again, this young whale full of energy jumped again and again.
We saw about 12 jumps! wow! We were also able to observe a total of about 10/12 animals, including a very small calf that seemed to be born not long ago, only a few weeks old.
Nature is incredible, it has the ability to surprise us every day! We could see it in the face of each biologist, and we could see the reason why we chose this profession … love for these animals, the tremendous curiosity to know more about them, and the incredible willingness to protect them and share our passion with those who visit us!!!
Do you want to know more about our last trip and our sperm whale sounds research goals? Find more about our research!
Acoustic equipment was donated by Idea Wild.