Best Season
To see Whales and Dolphins

SO MANY SPECIES
TO DISCOVER IN THE AZORES

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

Up to 28 species of whales and dolphins fill the busy waters of the Azores. You can have your pick of which to view depending on the season you visit. But at any time of the year, we guarantee you will delight in the sightings of these magnificent creatures.

SPRING

Our marine biologists tell us that spring is their favorite time for observation, probably because this is when the big whales migrate from their winter home near the equator to their summer feeding grounds near Greenland, Iceland, and Norway.

These big whales – the blue whales, fin whales and sei whales – are the largest animals in the world and the Azores are known to be one of the best places to spot them. 

In general, they breed during the winter months in the tropical waters, preparing their young for the long swim to the North Atlantic. On their way, they pass through the Azores from March to June, staying several days to feed, providing our guests with dramatic sightings. 

These giants are also known as “Baleen Whales” because instead of teeth they have fibrous material (baleen plates) that hangs down from their top jaw like a great beard. The whales feed as they swim, taking in food (krill and small fish) which is caught within their baleen plates, filtering and holding their catch.

Spring can also be ideal to spot minke whales and humpback whales although sightings of the three biggest whales are more common. 

Spring is a special time when the whales’ favorite foods, plankton and krill are bountiful. This is the best time to look for sperm whales, one of the best-known species of the Azores. 

SUMMER

Summer is the best season to spot and swim with those other favorite cetaceans, dolphins. You’ll find the most species at this time, including bottlenose, spotted and Risso’s dolphin. The groups are larger during summer with the added treat that many of their young are seen swimming amongst them. 

FALL AND WINTER

Whale watching is a year-round activity in the Azores, and Futurismo also has tours during the fall and winter months. Especially common during this time are those species that live year-round in the Azores – the common dolphin, Risso’s dolphin, and bottlenose dolphin, plus the well-known sperm whale. 

Killer whales are also known throughout the world and on rare occasions, we will spot them along with beaked and false killer whales – which are actually dolphins!

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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BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN

Tursiops truncatus

BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN

The bottlenose dolphin is the most wellknown of all the dolphins and is unfortunately the most captive species in the dolphinarium industry.

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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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RISSO’S DOLPHIN

Grampus griseus

RISSOS DOLPHIN

Risso’s dolphins are distinguished by their robus, round head and extensive white body scars.

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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 a great distance.

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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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SEI WHALE

Balaenoptera borealis

SEI WHALE

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

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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 easily identifiable thanks to their long pectoral fins and their knobbly head.

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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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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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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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STRIPED DOLPHIN

Stenella coeruleoalba

STRIPED DOLPHIN

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

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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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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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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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ROUGH-TOOTHED DOLPHIN

Steno bredanensis

ROUGH-TOOTHED DOLPHIN

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

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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 Kogiidae 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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EXPERIENCE
THE AZORES

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