26 Apr 2018

26 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Twenty Eight - Melon-headed Whale

I thought we weren't going to see much else in the way of good Cetaceans, after enjoying a stunning performance by Sperm Whales during the afternoon of the day we crossed the Equator. However, we had one more Cetacean treat when a dispersed party of Blackfish were seen on the port side in the late afternoon. None were close & they were not appearing very often. Checking the photos later & discussing with other observers, I completely failed to get onto the nearer pods of around twenty False Killer Whales which were a few hundred metres off the Plancius. But I did get onto around twenty of the fifty or so more distant Melon-headed Whales. I've seen Melon-headed Whales before in the Philippines on the ferry between Batangas, Luzon & Waya, Mindoro & on the return ferry a few days later. But that was back in 2002 and I can't remember much about those sightings: especially as my only camera had died a few weeks before. So, I was pleased to get another sighting of some Melon-headed Whales, even if they weren't close.
Melon-headed Whale: Melon-headed Whales are a Dolphin-sized Blackfish with a maximum size of 2.8 metres. They have a distinctive head shape without a beak and without the melon overhanging the jaws as it does in the much larger False Killer Whales (which are 5 - 6 metres in size)
Melon-headed Whale: The dorsal fin is positioned about halfway along the body & is tall & slightly falcate
Melon-headed Whale: This close crop of the last photo shows a darker mask to the lower head which is one of the features to separate them from the more uniformly coloured & similar-sized Pygmy Killer Whales
Melon-headed Whale: Melon-headed Whales occur in all tropical & subtropical deep water oceans from 40 degrees North to 35 degrees South
Melon-headed Whale
We also saw the four Flying Fish species that we had been seeing on the previous few days: Small Clearwing, Four-winged Flying Fish, Atlantic Flying Fish and Bandwing Flying Fish.
Four-winged Flying Fish
Four-winged Flying Fish: Another view of the same individual
Bandwing Flying Fish: I caught this individual as it was about to dive back into the water

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