Dienstag, 28. Juni 2011

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.

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