Whale watching in March

Humpback whale jumping Azores

March in the Azores is one of the most exciting months since we consider it as the beginning of the baleen whale season!

That means that baleen whales already started migrating northwards, from warm waters close to the Equator and they will pass through our waters on their route to the feeding grounds.

Thus, we get to see them more often and from this month on they usually appear regularly, although not every year the same! In this month our chances to start seeing migratory species such as fin whales, blue whales and humpback whales increase.

Of course, the four species that can be sighted throughout the year are still around: sperm whales, bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins and Risso’s dolphins.

Some occasionally sighted visitors might be observed as well during this month, such as killer whales, which have happened already several times in March during our tours of the last decade.

But not only whales and dolphins around. We see the same species of birds than in February (Black-headed gull, Mew gull, Ring-billed gull, Herring gull, Iceland gull, Lesser Black-backed gull, Glaoucus gull, Great Black-backed gull, Black-legged kittiwake, Great skua and without forgetting our resident Yellow-legged gull); plus our beloved Cory’s Shearwaters, who have arrived to the island in great numbers already, making themselves noticeable flying alongside our boats and cruising just above the waves in a spectacular manner. Portuguese man o’ war, turtles and even sharks can be spotted on the flatter days.

The weather starts to improve (or may be not!) and as the Spring time approaches, it brings countless sightings of wildlife: not only cetaceans, but also plenty of seabirds and other marine life! Lighter and clearer days are very good for the lookouts since it becomes easier to spot the animals. Sea water is usually at its coldest temperature (15-16ºC!). Cold waters, but as well full of nutrients and light, trigger an explosion of life (known as “spring bloom”) in the Azorean waters, increasing primary production, and therefore, chances for whales and dolphins’ prey to grow as well. In practice, water is cold and not so clear, seeming somehow greenish on those days.

Basically, if your desire is to see giant whales,  we recommend that you book your trip between March and June because the probability  of seeing them here in the Azores is much higher at this time of year! 🙂

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