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  • Atlantic Naturalist

|22-5-2019 am| A day for resident (species) only: Sperm whale, Risso's and Bottlenose dolphins

Updated: Sep 30, 2019

The swell was large but the low wind and the presence of animals allowed us to go out.


The first species that we saw were Risso's dolphins (Grampus griseus). It was a pod of 6 animals resting, difficult to keep at sight.


Risso's dolphins

We left to the area where a Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) was spotted. But it was tough: the sea made difficult to find the whale. All boats worked together to find the whale, using the hydrophone those that had one. We put it one time, we couldn't hear a click, which meant that the whale probably was at the surface but no one could see it, we wait more, and tried again, and we could hear it. So we kept tracking the whale through the clicks that it was making while hunting deep species. And finally, the effort had its recompense.


The small Sperm whale male that we found

This animal had been hunting as deep as 800m deep and spent about 10 minutes at the surface before disappearing again. So we went to find something else and, what a surprise! We found a piece of what he was hunting: a deep species of octopus Haliphron atlanticus. The specimen was collected in agreement with our biological sample collection license and kept in the collection of the Atlantic Naturalist Foundation.




Arms of a deep species of octopus Haliphron atlanticus

It is a mid-water gelatinous octopus species that is often found in these waters, also next to other teuthophagous such as the bottlenose dolphins for instance. Sperm whales eat their buccal mass and leave much of the softer tissue of the arms. On the way back to horta there was a pod of 6 Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), so we stopped again for some image collection and observation.


Bottlenose dolphins in the Azores

The animals were not interested in the boat, so we left them and went back to the harbor. After a trip that was weather challenging, we were all happy because we were able to see 3 different species of cetaceans.



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