Dienstag, 28. Juni 2011

Atlantic Spotted dolphins!!

The first Atlantic spotted dolphins of this season have arrived!! The sea conditions on our whale watch trip of this morning were not the most favourable. Strong winds causing swell and white caps prevented us from being able to spot whales. Nevertheless it turned out to be a great trip, with the sighting of a Mola mola (sunfish), a Loggerhead turtle and our first seasonal sighting of the acrobatic and social Atlantic spotted dolphin.

The Atlantic Spotted Dolphin (Stenella frontalis) is a dolphin found in the Gulf Stream of the North Atlantic Ocean. Older members of the species have a very distinctive spotted coloration all over their body. The coloring of the Atlantic Spotted Dolphin varies enormously as they grow. Calves are a fairly uniform grey colour. When the calves are weaned, they then begin to get their spots. Juveniles have some dark spots on their belly, and white spots of their flanks. Their back and dorsal fin are a darker grey than the rest of the body. As the animal matures the spots became denser and spread until the body appears black with white spots at full maturation.
The Atlantic Spotted is a gregarious creature. It is a fast swimmer, keen bow-rider and prone to acrobatic aerial displays.

Whale watch, Sunday June 26

Sunday morning, 10 o'clock, South coast of Pico... It couldn't have been a more peaceful, calm and gorgeous day out there. Flat calm waters, small amount of boats around, sunshine, smiling people and beautiful sea creatures. The Sperm whales seemed to be resting mainly, slipping silently underneath the surface, not even a tail, before coming up again within 5 minutes in a spot close by. After observing the whales for about an hour, our "vigia" Antero let us know that a big group of Pilot whales was also spotted. The group was split up in smaller subgroups and the whales were magnificent; calm and relaxed, logging (floating) on the surface. We turned off the engine and just listened to the whales breathing about 50 metres away from our boat. What a magical moment! On our way back to Lajes we found a small group of Common dolphins, which played around the boat for a litle while, before dissapearing into the deep Blue. Nobody had a word to say anymore... The smiles on our faces showed enough...

Photos: Copyright Benjamin Schilling

Pilot whales are among the largest of the oceanic dolphins, exceeded in size only by the killer whale. They and other large members of the dolphin family are also known as blackfish. Pilot whales are primarily squid eaters but will feed on fish as well. They are also highly social and studies suggest that both males and females remain in their mothers’ pods, an unusual trait among mammals which would also be found in certain killer whale communities. Short-finned pilot whales are also one of the few mammal species where females go though menopause and post-reproductive females may contribute to the survival of younger members of their pods. Pilot whales are notorious for stranding themselves on beaches, and are among the most common cetacean stranders. Several theories have been proposed to account for this behavior. The status of both species is not understood and they have been subject to direct and indirect catches by fisheries. Whalers in a few countries continue to hunt pilot whales.

Sonntag, 19. Juni 2011

Espírito Santo

The Holy Ghost Festivals of Espírito Santo are very important to the Azorean people. The festivals are rooted in medieval traditions and typically held on all the islands from May to September, including lively parades and large feasts. As part of the tradition, soup and bread are handed out to revelers during these events. On Terceira and other islands, decorative houses called Imperios are the staging points for the feeding of the masses.On Sunday June 12th staff and guests of Pico Sport went to Candelaria to join in the festivities there.

Pico Sport new 5 star whale watching boat

Are you looking for space and comfort on board during your whale watching trip?
Starting mid July from our Lajes base, Pico Sport launches their new aluminum trimaran, 9 mt long, 225 HP outboard engine, L
This boat can also be used as a diving boat. Within a few minutes we can dismantle the front seats and mount diving tanks instead.

So if you're looking to go whale watching or diving with comfort and space, please contact us at whales @gmx.net!

Erich Ritter with Shark School in Pico

Last week Pico Sport has had the honour of having Dr. Erich Ritter coming to Pico to train dive instructors and guides to become qualified Shark Guides. Erich Ritter is the worlds leading scientist in human - shark interaction behavior. He arrived in Pico 2 weeks ago for 10 days to work with diving companies from Pico and Faial. To become a certified shark guide is very important. Here in the Azores we want to offer safe shark diving to avoid incidents from the very beginning. Three dive centers participated in the course held at Pico Sport, the company that dives around Pico since 19 years. Faials oldest company, Norberto Diver and Dive Azores with Tiago Castro participated. We even had 3 instructors from a Spanish company joining us.
Pico Sport and Sharkschool International pro
mote safe shark diving and the Azores are the first spot in the world that will have this certificate handed out to their guides. We highly recommend divers to only book their shark dive with certified Dive centers in the Azores Islands.

Freitag, 3. Juni 2011

Dolphin fact

This is a clear shot of the underbelly of a Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis), showing the gender of the animal!

Male common dolphin

The only way to determine a dolphin’s gender in the wild is to see a clear view of their genitals, or to observe an erection, act of intercourse, or a baby swimming close to an adult presumed to be a female.
On the underside of their belly, males have two separate slits, or grooves. One is called the genital groove and the other the anal groove. They lie in line with each other such that the grooves of a male resemble an exclamation point.
Females have one continuous slit which houses both the anal and genital openings. Females also have a set of slits housing the mammary glands. These slits flank either side of the genital slit.

Common dolphins copulating

Over the last weeks we have had big groups of Common dolphins cruising through the area. We have had several customers going out to sea already to swim with these acrobatic and happy creatures, and some of the swims have been amazing. The visibility has been clear and the dolphins interactive!
In the Azores it is allowed to swim with 5 different species of dolphin! Bottlenose dolphins, Common dolphins, Striped dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins, Risso’s dolphins.

If you are interested in joining us for the swim of a lifetime, contact us at whales@gmx.net.

Copyright: Robert M. Lehmann

Marine Biology in the Azores

Hi, my name is Hella Martens, and I am from the Netherlands. I have arrived in Pico almost 2 weeks ago and will be working as a whale and dolphin watching guide with Pico Sport for the next 6 months.
I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Management and have specialized in the field of cetaceans (the combined name for whales, dolphins and porpoises) research, conservation and education for the past 7 years. I have had amazing opportunities all over the world working with different whale and dolphin species in all sorts of different positions. While living and working in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Scotland and the Canary Islands, I have learned to appreciate and enjoy the immense beauty and importance of rich ecosystems, both on land and in the ocean.

Working with Pico Sport in the Azores is a new, exciting challenge for me. The area is extremely rich with so many different species. Already in my first week I have seen 4 new species I had never had the chance to encounter before; the Blue Whale, Fin Whale, Sei Whale and Risso's Dolphin. Also Bottlenose Dolphins, Common Dolphins and Sperm Whales have been seen on various trips. The highlight of my stay so far has been yesterday's sighting of the gigantic Blue Whale, foraging at a speed of 20/25 knots. The sheer size and power of this animal was incredible!! The customers, the skipper and myself were blown away (literally)! See the previous posting in this blog for photos of that sighting... :-)

I would like to invite anybody with a passion for wildlife and the ocean to join us! Every day on the water is a different one, and I am looking forward to sharing my knowledge on these amazing creatures!! You will have an amazing experience!
Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)

Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus)

Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

Risso's Dolphins (Grampus griseus)

Donnerstag, 2. Juni 2011

Blue Whales at Pico

Today was one of these days....7:00 in the morning-...a telephone call from the Vigia.....

Balleia Azul

The blue whales was traveling with a speed of 25 miles

The size of this animal 25 m

The blow 8m high

The back fin full of Copepod crabs

Good bye big Blue. Have a nice journey.

Thank you very much for this shoots Gert Helmus, back on Pico after 4 years....

Here a shoot of Renate, Gerds wife. She was lucky enough to get the short moment when the blue whale comes up with wide open mouth.....maybe full of Krill and fish.

The Blue Whale season is ending in this days. They migrate to the north where they find food drifting from the high Arctic when the ice is melting. Maybe Island, maybe Greenland, maybe Hudson bay---who knows.

The next Blue whale season starts in April 2012....long time from now. But in the meanwhile we see Spermwhales, Pilotwhales and we are waiting for the Beaked whales and spotted Dolphins to arrive.

Check also Pico Sport Facebook with many many news from Pico almost daily.

You can always send an E Mail to require whats new.