In the afternoon of the 23rd of May, we got a phone call from the lookout of the South of the island claiming that he had seen “a whale with a blow like an island”. Here in Faial, we inherited a long whaling tradition, and when they say that “a whale has a blow like an island”, it means that the whale is huge. In fact, the lookout thought that it was a blue whale at first, and it was not until he had seen its body that he realized that it was a Sperm Whale!
We boarded very excited about it: in the Azores, we usually see pods of female sperm whales with their offspring, and male visits are occasional.
After a few miles, we deployed the hydrophone in order to find where the “big bull” was. Male sperm whales are lonely animals that wander the ocean. And we heard it. But when we were heading to the sound source’s direction, we spotted a blow. We approached the animal and it was a big female, not a huge male as we were told. Confused, we waited until she dived, trying to understand the situation.
However, as soon as that whale disappeared into the big blue, we spotted a massive blow. It was our whale! With a blue-whale-like blow, a massive sperm whale surfaced half a mile from us.
It was a 20 meters-long sperm whale. Massive. Huge head. When he raised his fluke, it was like a landing track. I had never seen such a big sperm whale.
We were lucky (and had the patience!) to see him twice during his resting periods between dives, while foraging.
I am glad that we found the female first, because it allowed our clients to realize how huge the male was, and that it was a pretty special sighting. Otherwise they could have thought that it was the normal size for a sperm whale, and perhaps they could not appreciate it as much.
After the second dive, we decided to leave the area and look for something else. To add contrast, we found the smallest resident species of cetacean: a pod of Common Dolphins.
They were socializing, and very curious about our boat. We had a great sighting to finish the afternoon!
-Maria Serra from Azores Experiences