Posts Tagged ‘Madeira

18
Jun
17

Tarts of the Sea

Some excellent dolphins in Madeira. Four species, Bottlenose, Atlantic Spotted, Striped and Common all put in an appearance. Some are more playful than others. Striped in particular are always boat shy but with a little patience an an excellent skipper good views can be obtained. Spotted however are the real ‘tarts of the sea’. They want to play with anybody.

15
Jun
17

Petrodromas

When out at sea off Madeira last week we had some serious Petrodroma action. This Fea’s petrol was skirting the melee of Cory’s Shearwaters as they gorged on a bait ball of fish. Never coming close it always chose to be on its own away from the boat. I was pleased to get a record shot.

Its sister species, Zino’s Petrel, was much less easily observed. A trip at night not for the fainthearted along a steep mountain ridge, 6000 feet up  is required to see this species away from the sea . It nests here in crevices. They could be heard and seen as they returned to their nests under cover of darkness. But that’s a tale for another day. Thanks are due to Catarina and Hugo at ‘Wind Birds’ for all their help.

 

12
Jun
17

Compensation

Madeira is without doubt a beautiful island. Eye popping panoramic views from ear popping montane roads; a warm climate, lush exotic fauna and idyllic azure seas. However, it wasn’t the lure of the islands beauty that took me there last week. It was the promise of a Bryde’s Whale.

This species of cetacean is known to summer around the island each year. I have been on a mission to see and photograph Bryde’s Whales (pronounced Broodas) for some years. This trip was a long time coming.

Upon arrival a word with several boat operators around the island revealed not a single Bryde’s had been seen this season. Not one. I was hoping with seven trips to sea booked that situation would change. However I was to be disappointed. They are late this year and at the time of writing have still not appeared.

However nature has a habit of compensating. It was on one of the seven trip we were to definitely pull something totally unexpected out of the bag.

The spotter situated on the hillside above radioed in to say he had seen a couple of animals that he thought were beaked whales. We were onto them. The skipper, Danial, brought the rib around and plotted a course. We were in the right area within minutes. Now all we had to do was find them. It was easier than I thought.

Around a quarter of all the world’s ninety or so cetaceans are beaked whales. They are deep diving enigmatic species more at home in the cold dark depths of the ocean than they are at the surface. Minutes viewable are usually followed by up to an hour or more kilometres deep. They are rarely observed for any length of time. Some species are almost completely unknown.

As we scanned the sea two fins, a scarred light grey back and a flat forehead meant I had seen my first Blainville’s Beaked Whales. I was overjoyed. These are creatures I have only ever read about and seen in books.

Compensation indeed.




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