April 11 Biosphere Diary Entry

April 11 Biosphere Diary Entry

Wednesday we had good weather for our first full day at sea. The lookouts told us there were sperm whales to the north of Faial, and so that’s where we headed first thing. We stayed with 8 sperm whales at least half the day, cataloging at least 5 individual whales.

Sperm Whale Blow
Sperm Whale Blow

 

Sperm Whale Pod- Biosphere Expeditions
Sperm Whale Pod – mothers and daughters
Sperm Whale Pod - mothers and daughters
Sperm Whale Pod – mothers and daughters

We then moved on to transect work, and were lucky enough to see a pod of striped dolphins doing their characteristic carousel thing. We got lucky and their course change brought them quite close to the Physeter, and we were able to see the wee ones flying through the air alongside the adults. Kasia got a great photo.

Striped Dolphins doing the carousel thing - start
Striped Dolphins doing the carousel thing – start

 

Striped Dolphins doing the carousel thing - up!
Striped Dolphins doing the carousel thing – up!

 

Striped Dolphins doing the carousel thing - up!!
Striped Dolphins doing the carousel thing – up!!

 

Striped Dolphins doing the carousel thing - up!!!
Striped Dolphins doing the carousel thing – up!!!

 

Striped Dolphins doing the carousel thing - up!!!!
Striped Dolphins doing the carousel thing – up!!!!

 

Striped Dolphins doing the carousel thing - and over!
Striped Dolphins doing the carousel thing – and over!

Thursday was a shore day; half the team went diving (brrrrr!) and saw octopus and moray eels for their pains, while the other half trekked around the rim of the caldeira, then free-wheeled down the mountain on bikes. Today was an incredible day beginning with an hour-long encounter with a true leviathan – a blue whale! It graced us with its presence so close to the boat we could almost smell the blow. It was quite the surprise to have him surface only twenty meters away.

 

Blue Whale Encounter in the Azores - Photo by Ryan Smith
Blue Whale Encounter in the Azores – Photo by Ryan Smith

 

Blue Whale Encounter in the Azores - photo by Ryan Smith
Blue Whale Encounter in the Azores – photo by Ryan Smith

 

Blue Whale Encounter in the Azores - photo by Ryan Smith
Blue Whale Encounter in the Azores – photo by Ryan Smith

 

Blue Whale Encounter in the Azores - photo by Ryan Smith
Blue Whale Encounter in the Azores – photo by Ryan Smith

 

Blue Whale Encounter in the Azores - photo by Ryan Smith
Blue Whale Encounter in the Azores – photo by Ryan Smith

 

Blue Whale Encounter in the Azores - photo by Ryan Smith
Blue Whale Encounter in the Azores – photo by Ryan Smith

 

The afternoon was spent surrounded by sperm whales. Spaced quite far apart, we stayed with a set of whales until they showed us their flukes, and then race off to the next group. Cil captured a great double fluke.

Double Sperm Whale Fluke - Biosphere Expeditions
Double Sperm Whale Fluke – Biosphere Expeditions

In all, seven obligingly showed us their flukes and we’ve got them in the North Atlantic sperm whale catalogue now.   Lisa, our scientist, was very pleased!

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