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The Atlantic Spotted  Dolphins

Three times I’ve seen Spotted dolphins in the last two weeks. In the stretch of water between La Gomera and Tenerife there is a huge group of over 100 individuals who have paused here whilst on their migration from the Bay of Biscay and the Bahamas to equatorial waters and back.

It’s an incredible feeling when you hear over the radio that there are “Monteados” (the Spanish for spotted dolphins) by another whale watching boat. The first time I saw the spotted dolphins, the weather was really bad and whilst the tourists on the boat were feeling ill because of the waves the dolphins loved the waves surfing in the huge waves and then leaping through the waves to get back to where they started and repeating the process all over again. The second time the water was much calmer and you could see the pod spread for over 200 meters in every direction around the boat. Luckily, because they migrate through the area we don’t need to try and take fin ID photos of every individual. 

The third time, we had just finished an encounter with a group of Pilot whales and were heading back to port when 5 spotted dolphins began to bow ride at the front of the boat. The captain slowed the engines and the bow riding dolphins turned to join the rest of their pod having a lazing day in the sun. The spotted dolphins are living in a much larger group than the resident bottlenose dolphin population. They are also much smaller and seem to swim and jump much quicker so an interaction with them is unlikely but always worth the wait.

By Natasha Wallis - Tenerife Assistant Research Officer

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