Another year came to an end and here’s the outcome of our sightings!
As usual, our resident species were the most sighted species and the winner was… the common dolphin! They were present in over 80% of our trips, making the importance of the island for them noticeable on a yearly basis.
Following this, we have the bottlenose dolphins whom, despite being present at 60% of our trips, we missed a lot in the summertime. Compared to other years, we did not have as many sightings, but every time we saw them it was simply amazing with high and spectacular jumps!
Third on the list is the sperm whale, and these animals gave us quite a show in each season of this year. Big families, breaches, a bunch of different males including several visits of Mr. Liable (who was again our most re-sighted individual), births, and pretty much every kind of behaviour we can imagine! This last year was truly fantastic for this species and we even ended the year with over ten sperm whales altogether.
The Atlantic spotted dolphins were one of the biggest surprises, since they arrived in our waters in late June, as usual, but they haven’t left since! The latter is unusual since they normally leave the area when the winter arrives. So, we got to see calves, juveniles, and adults until the very end of the year!
In general, we had a weaker year when it came down to baleen whales. We see most of them during the springtime, however this year was an exception and we did not have as many sightings as previous years. The species we saw the least were fin whales. Where were they? We don’t know. Some years like 2017 we see fin whales almost every day in the springtime! Comparing frequencies of sightings, the difference is striking: sightings over 30% of the trips in 2017 versus 5% this year!
On the other hand, sei whales this year were seen more frequently than last year. They showed up later but also stayed later in the season. We saw them in autumn, even in December, and we also saw them associated with several species of dolphins feeding.
2019 was also a great year for humpbacks here with several individuals seen in different times of the year. This year the humpbacks were even more present than the blue and fin whale, which is unusual.
Beaked whales are hard to identify but we got to see them on many trips, although we didn’t manage to identify them all of the times. We managed to identify at least once True’s beaked whales (which are sighted very occasionally), some North Atlantic bottlenose whales and Blainville and Sowerby’s beaked whales on several occasions. Unfortunately, some Sowerby individuals were found stranded on the coast of São Miguel, and were found dead on some of our summer trips.
Pilot whales also made quite an appearance this year with their calm swimming and in relatively big groups.
Killer whales were only sighted in March; a family of 6, including a large male, who were
Amazing and showed us several different kinds of behavior such as lobtails.