September 25, 2009

All about feelings

Another great day for dolphin watching! About 100 common dolphins and I-don't-even-know how many gannets (Morus bassanus) together in a feast, diving and jumping to the sound of the Southeast swell. Maybe small fish are coming with the currents, maybe common dolphins are still nursing, maybe shearwaters are gone, maybe adult gannets are arriving from a distant migration, maybe we should go West...Always follow your feelings, always.

September 19, 2009

And for a change...

...bottlenose dolphins! Yesterday we had a special visit. About 30 bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) followed us from Lagos to Portimão and back, with an incursion to Arade river mouth. This species is known by its coastal habits and what makes them one of the most sensitive and threatened. Pollution, touristic pressure, loss of habitat and accidental fishing, for example. Anyhow, this group is apparently healthy, swimming and playing along with their babies. We suspect that this might be a resident population. Now that sardines are gone, we stay with the residents or occasional migratory species. Waiting for fishermen leftovers was also the great shearwater (alone again) and an unidentified shearwater (maybe balearic...). And two days ago, the magnificent great skua (Stercorarius skua). I call it luck. Information about bottlenose dolphins here. It was a pleasure so observe them again, FREE!

September 15, 2009

Hello birdwatchers!

With a little help from our friends, our newsletter number 3 is ready to go, dedicated to seabirds. Seabirds have always been an important part of our trips as they constitute one of our favorite clues to spot dolphins. Being so, we can't help noticing them. Yesterday, on our way back, leaving a group of common dolphins, we observed a great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) just standing on the top of Ponta da Piedade. It's not everyday, trust me. Bring your binoculars and jump onboard! And welcome Autumn.
(click on it to read)

September 13, 2009

Take action

As we happily sit and admire these enchanting creatures named dolphins, thousands of other marine top predators are being slaughtered. The truth about sharks, dolphins and blue tuna are shown on the big screen today as never before! Really makes me wonder, what can we do? Yesterday I watched this touching documentary about sharks and I can hardly wait for "The Cove" and "The End of the Line", after a week spent observing common dolphins and harbor porpoises, swinging with the SE swell. If you hear the little sea shepherd voice inside your heart, watch it. Then, take action!

September 07, 2009

Wilson's storm petrel

We haven't seen a petrel since the end of May...good news: they're back! The small black bird was close enough for a picture and identification. It was a Wilson's petrel (Oceanites oceanicus) and we had a group of around 30 last week. Probably on their migration route (here you can see more about this seabird). They were actually one of the actors of another exciting boat trip. Common dolphins of course, gannets, Cory shearwaters and again one lonely great shearwater all together on a typical open ocean action scene. If you stay onshore, definitely you are going to miss it...

August 22, 2009

Who's watching who?

Humans watch dolphins watch humans? Mysterious relationship. Dolphins act like magnets of humans attention. History reports a long time connection between these two worlds. They save people from shark attacks, from drowning...mythology refers humans becoming dolphins, dolphins becoming humans. And much more. You know, you feel it too. Do dolphins share the same kind of special attention for humankind? I believe they are only curious but the mysticism remains. Much more points of view should be taken in consideration. Try "All animals are equal but some are cetaceans" by Neils Einarsson or "Revisiting the tragedy of the commons: ecological dilemmas of whalewatching in Azores" by Katja Neves-Graça. Last week sightings: common dolphins of course, bottlenose and porpoises.

August 16, 2009

Shearwaters come and go

Yesterday we had an encounter with the great shearwater (Puffinus gravis). Only one individual but made me very happy! It was my first sighting of this species here in Lagos. This seabird made a remarkable migration from the southern hemisphere and usually stays in our waters for short periods of time. Just like seasons, it has been a pleasure to witness their arrival and departure. How did we spot this seabird? It was right above the common dolphins we had all day. And Spanish was the official language! More about the great shearwater here.

August 13, 2009

Maternal bond

Exciting shark sighting today! No worries, sharks don't eat people. People eat sharks. Also 3 shy porpoises, at the famous "porpoise area", maybe more. You never know...For our regular friends, the common dolphins, it's still nursing time. Since the begging of July we have been noticing the presence of babies, always close to the mother. Believe it or not, dolphins can stay with the mother for 8 years, depending on the species. The fetal folds we saw today indicate that this baby was born recently. Have you ever seen a baby dolphin?

July 28, 2009

We are with the lord!

Since last week, our passengers comfortably sit and ride with the lord. Sounds weird...even dolphins recognize that the lord is providing them the best waves to surf. Today and yesterday we had common dolphins near by. Small groups, big groups, hunting, playing, jumping, bow ridding, you name it! The weather has been perfect for a nice trip out in the ocean. Thank you, lord. Pictures are also getting better, but I believe that has nothing to do with the lord, or does it??????

July 24, 2009


The sardine (Sardina pilchardus) is the most important seafood in Portugal. Not only economically but also from a cultural point of view. All the knowledge around sardines has been transmitted from one generation to the next. Where to find it, how and when to catch, how to cook and how to eat it! We eat sardines with our hands. Dolphins have them in just one bite. They love to play around sardine schools and just like humans, the knowledge around it is also passing through one generation to the other. We have been observing feeding/hunting behaviors of young dolphins on the last days. Common dolphins. All about sardines here.

(Portuguese purse seiners finishing their fishing activity, early morning, outside Lagos)

July 20, 2009

Just a few words...


a great

day for




July 18, 2009

What else?

Common dolphins, of course! They were all around, again, on thursday and friday. They come in all sizes, jumping, playing, hunting, looking at us, saying hello...we love them! After the trip, if your kid is still asking about the difference between a common dolphin and a normal dolphin, read this. By the way, did you know that cetaceans (dolphins and whales) hold record for the longest muscle on the planet? It is called Longissimus dorsi and belongs to the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus). The upward movements of dolphins are powered by this muscle together with a highly irrigated strong fluke (caudal fins).

July 15, 2009

The shearwaters

One of our best clues to find dolphins are birds. We know that they sometimes follow dolphins and often hunt together. Since the beginning of July, groups of Cory's shearwaters (Calonectris diomedea borealis) have been observed in association with common dolphins. It's a magificent bird! In my flies just centimetres above the water with the tips of the wings almost touching the surface. Check out here everything you need to know about this seabird. The other shearwater, the Balearic shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus), is also in our company but this smaller member of the family is usually closer to Ponta da Piedade. This species is classified as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List. Dolphins? We had dolphins, common dolphins, bottlenose, porpoises (twice!) and the ocean sunfish (Mola mola).
(on the left, the Cory's shearwater and on the right, Balearic shearwaters)

July 13, 2009

Ghost fishing

Today we had common dolphins, wind, common dolphins, wind, bottlenose dolphins and...wind again! On our first trip we noticed the repeated call of attention from a particular dolphin. He was showing us his left pectoral fin, probably the remains of his last "adventure". Unfortunately, there was nothing we could do to help him. The dolphin had what looked like a piece nylon, maybe from a fishing device, attached to his fin. Poor guy. Another victim of ghost fishing. The term refers to lost or abandoned fishing gear that continues fishing indefinitely. Besides fish, other protected species can also be caught, marine mammals, sea birds and turtles included. More on this issue here. Luckely, this one survived...

July 11, 2009


Shhhhhh, shhhh...yesterday we had an unforgetable moment of silence on our first trip. 2 boats drifting, 20 quiet dolphin watchers, a group of about 20 slow common dolphins and calm waters. No pictures, just imagine it in your head. It was a great start for a long day. More trips to go and another group of common dolphins was waiting for us less than 3 miles off Ponta da Piedade. Shall I say 4 groups? Lots of dolphins everywhere! Too easy. Then, the tide changed and when the tide changes, the wind pics up. And with 30 knots of wind, we have rough seas (rough being a relative word...). Dolphins love it, the crew loves it as well, and our passengers, well some of them couldn´t take the smile of their faces. Did we get wet? Of course! Anyway, we were heading west, for the last trips of the day, and the radio screams "bingo", the code word for fish (we also call it dolphins). The show begins! The hero of the day spoted surfing-jumping dolphins in the midle of the messy ocean. It was a great end for a long day.
(on the left, common dolphins near shore and on the right, common dolphins late in the afternoon)

Note -
Silentium is the latin word for silence

July 09, 2009

Hunted for fins

Where people see dolphins, I see now fins. Fins, fins, fins...for a fin catalogue in my dreams. It's shape, scars, dots are like a finger print for dolphin ID. It changes with time, but some characteristics remain for life. Today we had common dolphins in almost every trip, so I added some more fins to my collection. Here you have some examples of what I am hunting for. And we also had lots of Cory shearwaters! For your information, "Hunted for fins" is the title from a report on shark finning. You can find it here. If you're not related to this sensitive matter and you want to know more, go also here. Now that I have your atention, check out what your country is doing to help sharks here. Because we love sharks too!

July 08, 2009

X marks the spot

There's this secret place "X" where every dolphin watch boat goes once a day. Just to check. Sometimes it's empty but not this morning! We found a nice family of common dolphins (Delphinus delphis), around 20 animals, circling around with their young. Why they go there, nobody knows. Why do we go there...I don't know either. There's also the "B" area but that's a different story.

July 07, 2009

Porpoises count!

Forget about the 30 bottlenose dolphins jumping between dolphin watch boats just 2 miles off Meia praia. Last friday I took my first harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) picture and it was exciting. No, not frustrating, E-X-C-I-T-I-N-G!!!! 3 individuals, with no heading, shy as usual, out 2 times (maybe 3) and then, gone. I promise better pictures next time. And where did common dolphins go? Not one sighting. My personal information sources said something about "no sardines" on local seiners catches.

July 06, 2009

June overview

We had a hot month in the Algarve and very calm seas, at least in the morning. 5 cetacean species, 3 loggerhead turtles and 1 unindentified shark. Not bad! Counting 75 sightings of common dolphins (do they live around here or are they here only because of sardines? Hum...), 3 bottlenose dolphins observations and only 1 encounter with Risso's. 1 minke whale and 2 porpoise sightings at a glance (why? why?). All in 106 fast boat trips. So fast that we almost missed the european storm petrels and the great skuas. Yes, we sometimes stop for birds. By the way, the endangered balearic shearwater has been around Ponta da Piedade.
(On the left, common dolphins and on the right, bottlenose's)

Welcome to the Algarve dolphins logbook!

The latest news about dolphin watch in Lagos. That's right, we will try to keep you updated on our sightings in the blue ocean. We already started collecting data and we have some results...Ready?