3 May 2018

3 May 18 - West African Pelagic - Day Three: Atlantic Spotted Dolphins At Sea Between Cape Verde & The Canary Islands

The Seabird numbers had been fairly low on the second day at sea on the West African Pelagic between Cape Verde & the Canary Islands. This wasn't surprising as we were over deep waters with depths of four or five kilometres for the morning. In the afternoon, we passed over a seamount where the depth was only 1800 metres. Overall, it has been a better day for Cetaceans with a combined group of Short-finned Pilot Whales & Bottlenose Dolphins, followed by some showy Risso's Dolphins. The other treat of the day was a few pods of Atlantic Spotted Dolphins. We had already had a brief end of day sighting of Atlantic Spotted Dolphins on 1 May, but it was good to be able to get better views. It was interesting to see how different the calves were from their older parents: unspotted & much whiter. It was also interesting to see an individual which superficially looked similar to a Short-beaked Common Dolphin.
Atlantic Spotted Dolphin: A gorgeous adult with good spotting
Atlantic Spotted Dolphin: Sub adults do not show spotting
Atlantic Spotted Dolphin: This youngster must be even younger with its much whiter underparts
Atlantic Spotted Dolphin: Adult
Atlantic Spotted Dolphin: Adult with a youngster to the left
Atlantic Spotted Dolphin: Another adult follows a sub adult
Atlantic Spotted Dolphin: This individual looks superficially like a Short-beaked Common Dolphin until you look properly
Atlantic Spotted Dolphin: The white-tipped beak is a good identification feature
There were a few Loggerhead Turtles seen, but I was either on the wrong side of the Plancius or they had started their crash-dives before I turned to get onto them. With no likelihood of any Seabird Ticks, I was in Cetacean mode & generally staring about a half mile to a mile into the distance with the bins & often missing the close stuff. However, Portuguese Man-of-war cannot dive & I saw eight during the day.
Portuguese Man-of-war: This photo shows the long tentacles dangling below the water
We were looking forward to the next day as we were planning to sail between the Canary Islands. This should be a busier day for Seabirds & hopefully we would see more interesting Cetaceans.