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About 80 cetacean species are living in our seas, our oceans and our rivers. Officially, 28 of them (dolphins and whales), can be found in the Azores.Since 1993, we have been collecting and organizing our sightings data but it is very hard to obtain serious statistics, because each species has its own way of life! For some species, we could establish geographic areas, for example, it is very rare to encounter sperm whales less than 3 miles away from the coast, while teeth whales seem to prefer ocean depths… Some species can be only sighted during a certain period of the year, such as spotted dolphins that get back to the archipelago in June, when the sea is about 20 Celsius degrees. Sighting frequencies can be classified into 4 types :
- Often : Physeter macrocephalus, Sperm whale - Delphinus delphis, Common dolphin - Tursiops truncatus, Bottlenose dolphin - Stenella Frontalis, Atlantic spotted dolphin - Grampus griseus, Risso's dolphin - Globicephala macrorhynchus, Short-finned pilot whale.
- Randomly : Stenella coeruleoalba, Stripped - Pseudorca crassidens, False killer whale - Hyperoodon ampullatus, Northern bottlenose whale- Zyphius cavirostris, Cuvier's beaked whale - Mesoplodon bidens, Sowerby's beaked whale - Mesoplodon europaeus, Gervais' beaked whale - Balaenoptera musculus, Blue whale - Balaenoptera physalus, Fin whale - Balaenoptera borealis, Sei whale.
- Rare : Steno bredanensis, Rough toothed dolphin - Orcinus orca, Killer whale - Kogia breviceps, Pygmy sperm whale - Megaptera novaeangliae, Humpback - Balaenoptera acutorostrata, Minke whale - Balenoptera edeni, Bryde's whale, Mesoplodon densirostris, Blainville's beaked whale, Globicephala melas, Long-finned pilot whale, Lagenodelphis hosei , Fraser's dolphin.
- Never :Mesoplodon mirus, True's beaked whale - Kogia simus, Dwarf sperm whale - Eubalaena glacialis, Northern right whale.
Even if every time we are at sea we are used to meeting 2 or 3 different species on average, every day is a new one : we have already had the opportunity of watching 9 different species in 3 hours!!! During 99% of these sea trips, we can watch animals. That is why, when you prepare your trip, you should analyse very cautiously the statistics presented below, especially those of last week, which only are a pale reflection of the Azores reality.