Friday, 3 November 2017

Summer visitors in the Azores

Summer is a great time to be in the Azores. Several different cetacean species arrive to the area during the warmer months and at this time we also see a lot of newborn calves. Three of my favourite species to watch and photograph at this time of the year are Atlantic spotted dolphins, striped dolphins and pilot whales.

Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis) mother and calf

Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis)

Watching Atlantic spotted dolphins

Striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) mother and calf

Newborn short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus)

Friday, 27 October 2017

Meet Mr Liable - the most encountered sperm whale in São Miguel, Azores

In many whale watching locations there is at least one whale that is sighted more frequently than others and becomes somewhat famous among whale watchers who see the individual regularly. Off São Miguel Island in the Azores this is the case with a male sperm whale who has been named "Mr Liable" by the staff of Futurismo Azores Whale Watching. His name comes from the fact that he is very reliable because he regularly returns to the area, his dive times are often regular throughout the day so that it is easy to predict when he will surface, and finally he most well known to be reliable in showing a great tail almost every time. 

Monday, 23 October 2017

Resident dolphins in the Azores

Around the Azores Islands there are three dolphin species that are considered to be resident. Short-beaked common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and Risso's dolphins can be seen year-round. After arriving to the Azores for the first time it didn't take me long to see all three species.

Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

Common dolphin (Delphinus delphis)

Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus)

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Humpback whale mother and calf

May 22nd 2010 is a date I will never forget. During this day were were lucky to have a mother with her calf visit us in São Miguel, Azores. The pair was very active with a lot of breaching, pectoral fin slapping and fluking. The adult humpback whale has also been sighted off Cape Verde as well Norway and she was seen with another calf in 2014.

Humpback whale mother breaching close to our boat

Humpback whale mother and calf

Thursday, 19 October 2017

A good year for blue whales in the Azores

2010 was a very good year to see blue whales in the Azores. Some years are better than others in terms of number of individuals that are seen, and also the behaviour of the animals. In 2010 there were more blue whale sightings than in previous years and we also got to see several blue whale tails and feeding behaviour! 

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Baleen whale season in the Azores

I started my whale watching experience in the Azores during the spring months, which to my surprise is a great time of the year to see migrating baleen whales. When people talk about whale watching in the Azores you hear a lot about the resident sperm whales. However, these volcanic islands are also one of the best places to see the three largest animals on the planet (blue whales, fin whales and sei whales). I was lucky to to encounter many of these ocean giants during my first whale watching season off São Miguel Island.

Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalis) head

Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis) mother and calf

Blue whale fluke!

Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) tall blow

Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus)

A completely different sort of sighting - a portuguese man of war (physalia physalis)

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Azores - some first impressions

In 2010 I moved to the Azores for the marine life. But during my first few days on São Miguel Island the ocean was too rough to go out, so I did some exploring on land instead. To my surprise there are a lot of beautiful sights to take in and these are just a few photos from this very green island. 

Furnas church

Furnas church

Overview of Vila Franca do Campo and Vila Franca islet

Morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea) flower

Indian shot (Canna indica)

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

A day in Lisbon

In 2010 I made the big move from New Zealand to the Azores, Portugal. But first I scheduled a short stop in Lisbon, to have a look at some of the sights of the capital. Lisbon is a beautiful city to explore on foot and photograph with its historic buildings, numerous "praças" with their pretty water fountains, steep streets and of course its iconic trams that weave through the centre.

Lisbon seen from Castelo de São Jorge

Praça do Comércio

One of the iconic Lisbon trams

Thursday, 24 August 2017

New Zealand scenery

Before leaving  New Zealand to live abroad and explore other parts of the world, I was lucky to fit in a bit of travelling around the South Island of New Zealand. I especially love the southwestern part, including Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound and Mount Aspiring National Park. I hope to return one day to explore this region much better. Kaikoura is also a very special place, and it is here that I have witnessed the most impressive sunrises that light up the whole sky.

Doubtful Sound on a perfect day (the calmest they had recorded in four years)

Lake Wakatipu, with Mount Aspiring National Park in the background

Mount Aspiring National Park

Kaikoura Peninsula 

One of my favourite things about Kaikoura is the impressive sunrises

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Some of the marine life in Kaikoura, New Zealand

Kaikoura is a  great place to see male sperm whales that seek out the deep waters of the Kaikoura canyon to feed. It was these sperm whales that captivated me and led me to work in this area for a few years. However, there is a lot more than just sperm whales to see in this region. During one year I was incredibly lucky to see a rare and endangered southern right whale. I also encountered humpback whales that migrate through the region in the winter, one blue whale, plenty of dusky dolphins, some rare Hector's dolphins and even orcas on a few occasions. Kaikoura is also one of the best places in the world to see oceanic birds, such as albatross and petrels, off the mainland. In 2010 I left this beautiful area to see more of the world and explore the marine life that other places also have to offer. However, Kaikoura will always have a special place in my heart. 

Southern right whale (Eubalaena australis)

Juvenile humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) upside down lobtailing

Hector's dolphin (Cephalorynchus hectori)

A big male New Zealand fur seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) drying in the sun 

A sperm whale diving close to one of the Whale Watch Kaikoura boats

Little pied cormorant (Microcarbo melanol)

The Kaikoura peninsula