April is always an exciting month for whale watching in the Azores. It’s the month of the migration of the Baleen whales through the Azores on their way North.
They stop in the islands between April and June to rest and feed as the Azorean waters are filled with much needed nutrients and krill.
Baleen refers to the plates that act like sieves inside their jaws filtering the food from the water whereas other whales have teeth like the famous Sperm Whale whose teeth were often engraved with intricate designs to form beautiful scrimshaw.
The most famous baleen whale you’ll see is the Blue whale, the largest animal on the planet and a reason for lots of whale watchers to head to the Azores this early in the season.
If you haven’t seen a Blue Whale before, here are a few characteristics :
- pale blue-grey body with a mottled appearance
- tiny, stubby dorsal fin
- broad, flattened U-shaped head
- huge blow-hole splash guard
- high blow that can reach 9m
- can reach 27m in length and weigh 120 tons
- lives alone or in groups of 2-5 individuals
- when relaxed they blow every 10-20 seconds and then dive for about 20 minutes
- top speed of 30km/h
Below is a summary of the number of trips out each species was seen in April :
And here is the newly painted look-out point (vigia) with Filipe the look-out working hard to spot some whales and dolphins :