12.00º < 16.00º

12.00º < 15.00º

13.00º < 16.00º

15.00º < 17.00º

15.00º < 18.00º

12.00º < 16.00º

12.00º < 15.00º

13.00º < 16.00º

15.00º < 17.00º

15.00º < 18.00º

Species guide

Blue Whale - Balaenoptera musculus
The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is the largest mammal in the world. Females can reach up to 33.3m of length in the Southern Hemisphere, and 29.8m in the Northern Hemisphere, while adult males generally measure less 1.5 m to 3m. As for weight, large females from South can weigh up to 180t, the remaining weigh between 80 and 150t.
Newborns measure between 6 and 7m of length and weigh 2 to 4t.
This big whale, has a long, streamlined and bluish-grey colored body. The dorsal fin is stubby and placed three-quarters of way along the back of the body.
When emerging on surface you can see the top of their head and the prominent blowhole. They usually swim alone or at most in pairs.
At sea, the blue whale is fairly identifiable from its very high blow/spout that can reach 9 to 12m. When diving they can show the fluke. The blow of a blue whale is one of the best sightings we can get.
In the Azores it is possible to sight blue whales from April to June.

Fin Whale - Balaenoptera physalus
Fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) come a close second to the world’s largest whale, the blue whale. Adult females can reach 24m in the northern hemisphere and about 27m of length in the Southern Hemisphere, adult males are generally smaller by about two meters of length, these whales can weigh between 30 and 81t.
The newborns measure 6 to 7m and weigh about 2t.
They are large, long and streamlined with grey dark bluish skin on the upper side and on the flippers, and light colored on the downside. It isn’t possible to observe the blowhole and the fin simultaneously on surface. They don’t show their fluke when they dive, but curve their tail peduncle.
At sea, they are fairly identifiable from their asymmetrical pigmentation on their heads. On their right sides their lower jaws are white, whilst the left side is dark as the rest of the body.
They are usually sighted traveling alone, in pairs or in groups 3-7 individuals.
In the Azores, they can be sighted in the months from April to June.

Sei Whale - Balaenoptera borealis
The Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis) measures between 12 to 18m length and weighs between 15 and 30t. Females are normally larger.
Newborns measure 4,5m to 5m and weigh about 1t.
This animals have a long and streamlined dark-grey to bluish-grey body on the backside and flippers, whilst pale on the downside. Their dorsal fin is higher and placed slightly forward on body than in other baleen whales.
They don’t show their Fluke nor curve their tail peduncle when they dive.
At sea, they are fairly identifiable from its vertical blow/spout which may reach 3m of height and from its sickle-shaped dorsal fin. Blowholes and the dorsal fin are simultaneously visible when emerging.
This species travels usually alone or in groups of 2 to 5 animals, but sometimes they can be sighted in groups of 30 individuals for feeding purpose.
During spring and summer we can find this species feeding on shoals of small fish, in association with dolphins.

Humpback Whale - Megaptera novaeangliae
Adult female Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) measure between 16 and 18m, and the males are slightly smaller. Weights vary between 24 and 40 tons depending on the size of each individual.
Calves measure 4,5m.
Humpback whales are fairly identifiable from their many rounded protuberances, knobbles on their heads and on their flippers - which may be as much as one third of their total body length – fairly visible when on surface.
The humpback whale has a dark black-bluish colored back, whilst the belly side may be light or dark.
Usually they curve their back and lift their fluke above the water as they dive. It’s a curious species towards the vessels and extremely active, breaching with frequency.
In the Azores, Humpback whales are sighted in small groups, sometimes very near the shore.

Mink whale - Balaenoptera acutorostrata
The adult male Mink whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) measures up to 10m, whilst the female is slightly larger. These animals have an average weight of about 9,2t.
They have a streamlined body with a pointed head. On each flipper is a distinct white band. The rest of the body is dark bluish-grey on the back and light colored on the belly side.
The Blowhole and dorsal fin are simultaneously visible at surface. Yet, their flukes rarely break the water surface when diving.
The blow of a Mink whale goes up to 2 to 3m height.
We can find solitary individuals or in small groups, however, sometimes large agglomerates of animals can be seen, particularly in feeding areas.

Bryde’s Whale - Balaenoptera edeni
The adult female Bryde’s whales (Balaenoptera edeni) measure between 13 and 16m, and the males are slightly smaller. An adult weighs about 40 tons.
The calves can be up to 3,4m long.
The Bryde’s whale is very similar to the Sei whale. They differ from their three longitudinal ridges on their head and they curve their caudal peduncle when diving.
Very little is known about the social structure of this species, as well as their behavior. However, like other species of baleen whales, this one too travels often alone or in small groups, and sometimes can be found in large groups of animals in the same geographical area, such as in feeding areas as in breeding areas.
Bryde’s whales occur in tropical waters, up to 40o N/S, and are therefore rarely sighted in the Azores.

North Atlantic Right Whale - Eubalaena glacialis
The adult male North Atlantic whale (Eubalaena glacialis) is about 15m long, whilst females are slightly larger than the males. Their average weight is of 70t.
The calf may grow 4,4m long and weigh up to 1t.
This animal has a very large and rounded body, without dorsal fin. The body is overall dark grey to black colored; occasionally it may have white patches on the ventral side.
They are fairly identifiable from its white callosities on their head and from its strongly bowed mouth line.
Their blow goes up to 3m height in V-shape, differing from that of other baleens. When dive they show their fluke.
Right whales form small groups of 1 to 3 individuals. They are registered as an endangered species by the IUCN Red List.

Spermwhale - Physeter macrocephalus
The male adult Sperm whale (physeter macrocephalus) measures 15 to 20m of length and can weigh 35 to 50t. The female is smaller measuring between 11 to 15m of length and weighing in average 20t.
The calves measure about 4m and can weigh up to 1t.
These animals have a grey or dark brown body and are covered in wrinkly prune-like skin. In its majority they show great white scars, which are a result of encounters with other cetaceans and giant squids (main source of food).
Sperm whales have an enormous square head which is up to a third of their overall body length. It holds spermaceti: a waxy structure that once was thought to be sperm, and which is in the origin of the English name – Sperm whale.
At sea, the sperm whale is easy to identify from its body shape and the direction of its blow – forward and to the left, at an angle of 45°.
Before a deep dive, sperm whales usually show their tail. Normally, when feeding they rest on the surface for about 5 to 15 minutes to recover before another dive. These animals can be in apnea between 45 minutes to an hour, reaching maximum depths which may vary between 700 and 1500 meters. In the case of large males, there is a theory affirming that they can perform dives up to 3000 meters deep; however this has not been confirmed.
Usually adult males travel in small groups or on its own, whilst females in nursery schools with their calves and immature males, forming groups of 2 to 20 animals.

Dwarf Sperm Whale - Kogia simus
The adult male dwarf sperm whale (Kogia simus) is about 3m long and weighs up to 400kg.
The calves can measure 1,2m long and weigh 55kg.
They are overall dark colored, whilst on the sides of the head can be noted a paler band that resembles a false gill. In opposition to the sperm whale, its dorsal fin is tiny and hooked formed, almost similar to that of a dolphin.
In the sea, the dwarf sperm whale is fairly identifiable from its elusive behavior.

Pygmy Sperm Whales - Kogia breviceps
The adult male pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps) has an average length of 3,5m and a weigh between 315 kg and 450 kg.
The calves are up to 1,2m long.
This specie has a small sized but robust body. The dorsal fin is tiny and placed far forward on the body. They are dark colored on the back with a paler underside (belly). From above, their heads are conical shaped, and they have false gills behind each eye.
Pygmy sperm whales travel in small groups of six individuals or even alone.
The distribution of this species is almost unknown, and the fact of being only a few sightings registered in the Azores is due to the animal’s discrete behavior and the fact that they don’t approach.
Aqua Açores’ sightings have always been of solitary individuals. They may float motionless at the surface and later simply disappear in the water.

Northern Bottlenose Whale - Hyperoodon ampullatus
The adult male northern bottlenose whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus) measures between 7.5 and 10m of length and weigh over 7t. Females measure between 5, 8 and 9 m and weigh up to 5,8t.
Newborns measure 3,5m of length and 300 kg of weight.
These animals have a dark brownish and cylindrical shaped body. Its forehead is bulbous and in the shape of a melon, with a preeminent beak and a groove behind the head.
Very particular to this specie is its blow that is visible from some distance. They can dive up to an hour in apnea.
The adult males of this species have two small teeth at the tip of the lower jaw, which are not visible when the animal has his mouth closed. These teeth may sometimes be covered by barnacles.
According to the sightings of Aqua Açores, the northern bottlenose whales are seen from July to August.

Sowerby Beaked Whale - Mesoplodon bidens
The adult male Sowerby beaked whale (Mesoplodon bidens) measures about 5m and weighs 1t. Males are bigger than females.
Newborns are between 2,4m and 2,7m long and weigh up to 170kg.
They are dark grey to blue colored, slightly lighter on the downside, and a streamlined body with a preeminent beak. The inferior jaw is slightly longer than the upper jaw. Males have a pair of teeth in the middle of the lower jaw.
At sea, despite being very shy, males are identified by their two teeth midway along the side of the beak.
Here, in the Azores, the Sowerby’s beaked whales have been sighted in small groups of 8, even some calves have been sighted.

Gervais Beaked Whale - Mesoplodon europaeus
An adult male Gervais’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon europaeus) measures between 4 and 5,2m and weighs 1t to 2,6t. This specie is difficult to distinguish male from a female.
Newborns measure approximately 1,6 to 2,2m and weigh 80kg.
Gervais beaked whales have dark grey or marine blue upper bodies whilst the underside is pale grey. They also have white scars on their skin presumably from fights between them.
The head is small and pointed, with a narrow beak. Teeth are inconspicuous and only develop in adult males, being located near the tip of the lower jaw.
The Gervais’ beaked whale is a shy and difficult species to observe. They usually travel in group or in pairs.

Cuvier’s Beaked Whale - Ziphius cavirostris
The adult male Cuvier’s beaked whale measures between 4 and 7m and weighs between 2 and 3,4t. Females are slightly bigger.
Newborns are between 2 and 2,7m long and weigh up to 300 kg.
Cuvier’s beaked whale’s pigmentation will brighten with age, in younger age they are grey and then grow to a light brown coloured body, although under sunlight they may appear almost red. Due to fights with other cetaceans these beaked whales usually show a large number of white scars.
At sea, they are fairly identifiable from their heads, which are lighter colored than the rest of the body, with a small indentation behind the blowhole, which ends into a short beak.
It isn’t common for these whales to travel in large groups, sometimes they even travel alone. Cuvier’s beaked whales are not very curious animals; this might be one of the reasons why they normally don’t approach boats.

Blainville’s Beaked Whale - Mesoplodon densirostris
The adult male Blainville’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon densirostris) is between 4,5m and 6m long and weighs between 820kg and 1t.
The calves measure up to 2,6m.
The body of the Blainville’s beaked whale is broad and robust, but it is laterally compressed in the tail region. They have a small flat forehead compared to beak, which is quite long. In males, the lower jaw presents a large curvature, this being a distinctive feature to recognize this species in the sea; such curvature is milder in females.
As the males reach their sexual maturity, a couple of teeth in the middle of the lower jaw begin to develop. These teeth may exceed the upper jaw and, over time, become encrusted with parasites making them more visible.
They have a blue-grey and black skin color, whilst lighter on the under-side (belly).
They are usually very shy and discrete, avoiding therefore vessels; this might be a reason for the rare sighting of Blainville’s whales in the Azores.

True’s Beaked Whale - Mesoplodon mirus
The adult male True’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon mirus) measures up to 5,3m and weighing about 1,3t.
Calves are 2,3m long and weigh about 136kg.
These whales have a bluish-grey colored body, with a white patch around each eye, while the lower third of the body is light colored.
True’s beaked whales have a medium-sized beak, with little teeth on the tip of the lower jaw.
The forehead is slightly protuberant and has a minor depression on the blowhole.
As the major beaked whales, their behavior is shy towards vessels, which makes the sightings in the Azores are rare.

Orca - Orcinus orca
The adult male Orca (Orcinus orca) is in average 10m long and the female 8,5m and weighs up to 10t. Females usually weigh less.
This animal is black colored with a contrasting white elliptic shaped patch behind the eye, and a light grey saddle-patch (area behind the dorsal fin). The belly side is white.
Orca’s dorsal fin is very prominent and triangular; the male’s dorsal fin is very tall. In fact, it can be up to 2m high and females have a much smaller fin, theirs is only about half the size, about 0.8m. Their body is very robust and the head is rounded and beakless.
They are very agile and active swimmers. When sighted, they frequently follow the boats.
Killer whales have complex social structures that have been studied over time, we can thus split them into three different types: residents (form large family groups of two or four generations), transients (form small groups of 6 to 15 individuals) and offshore (little known).
In the Azores, in the central group of islands sightings are uncommon. However, Aqua Azores records, almost every year, the passing of killer whales on the southern side of the island of Pico. These sightings are transient orcas, with small groups.

False killer Whale - Pseudorca crassidens
The adult male False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) measures between 5 and 6m length and can weigh over 2t. Females are slightly smaller measuring between 4 and 5m length and weighing just over than 1t.
Newborns measure about 1,6m length and weigh up to 80kg.
This animal has a long and streamlined, uniformly dark grey to black colored body. The head is narrow without melon and beakless. The dorsal fin is tall and either pointed or rounded and positioned in the middle of the back.
False killer whales are very active, curious and fast swimmers, therefore they bow-ride and wake-ride with the boat.
At sea, this species can be easily recognized by the morphology of their body, dark and long, and the shape of their head, little, without beak nor pronounced melon.
The false killer whale is a gregarious species, often traveling in groups of several dozen animals, where, apparently, there is no social segregation, these groups can be formed by animals of all ages and both sexes. In the Azores, this species usually appears associated with migration of tuna, main food of this cetacean.

Short-finned Pilot Whale - Globicephala macrorhynchus
The male adult Short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrohynchus) measures between 4 and 6 m of length, weighing up to 3t. The female is smaller, less than 6m of length, and has an average weight of 2t.
Newborns measure 1, 4 m and weigh about 60 kg.
The Short-finned pilot whale is dark grey colored and some animals may have a lighter “saddle” on the back. The falcate dorsal fin, very large at the base and the rounded bulbous melon head makes it fairly easy to differentiate them from other dolphin species.
At sea, pilot whales are often seen in groups of few to dozens of individuals, or alone in mixed groups of bottlenose dolphins.

Long-finned Pilot Whale - Globicephala melas
The adult male Long-finned pilot whale (Globicephala melas) can grow up to 6m length and weigh 3t, whilst the female is up to 5m long and weighs 1,5t.
At birth calves weigh 100kg and measure about 2m.
They are easily confused with the short-finned pilot whale, since the main distinctive feature is the size of the flippers. Their dorsal fin is set forward on the body and leaning backwards. The body is streamlined, but strong and narrows abruptly to the fluke.
This species (G. melas) prefers colder waters unlike the short-finned pilot whale (G. macrorhynchus); their distribution is known to occur primarily from 40 ° N and 47 ° S. This is one of the reasons why they are rarely sighted in the Azores.
They are very active and often curious, approaching vessels in groups of 10 to 30 individuals.

Risso’s Dolphin - Grampus griseus
The Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus) is also known as grey dolphin, white-head grampus, grey grampus or grampus. The male adult measures over 4m of length and can weigh between 300 and 500kg. The female is smaller and not more than 3,5m length.
Some Risso’s dolphins weighing about 700 kg have been found in the Azores.
These animals have a dark grey colored skin, which gets whiter with the passing of time, because of the light shaded scars covered body. Those are a result of the encounters with other cetaceans and squids (main food source).
At sea, Risso’s dolphins are easy identifiable from its round blunt head with bulging forehead that slopes steeply to the mouth. The dorsal fin is tall, pointed and darkened. Risso’s dolphins are more robust than most dolphins.
Although being a shyer and less acrobatic comparing to the other species, they frequently allow boats to approach.
Risso’s dolphins are a resident species in the Azores and therefore they can be easily found all year long in the bays on the south side of Pico.

Bottlenose Dolphin - Tursiops truncatus
The adult male bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatos) measures about 4m, and the female measures maximum 3,7m. Their weight is between 150 and 350 kg, in very special cases it can go up to 650 kg.
Newborns measure between 0,9m and 1,3m and weigh about 30 kg.
Bottlenose dolphins have a robust body. The area of the back around the dorsal fin has a dark grey pattern. The under-side (belly) is white or pink shaded. The head has a round melon, with a deep groove separating beak and melon.
At sea, the bottlenose dolphin is easy to identify from its rounded short and thick beak. It is a very friendly and sociable animal that travels in small groups, although it has occasionally been observed in groups of hundreds.
It is one of the most popular dolphins among the general population, because they played a leading role in the American series of the ’60s, Flipper. Once the series ended they were used for the first time as a show in zoos. In consequence with the beginning of this industry, which spread rapidly, bottlenose dolphins have been the chosen ones to use in these shows. One of the reasons might be because as there are many coastal resident populations it facilitates its capture.

Striped Dolphin - Stenella coeruleoalba
Striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba) can measure up to 2,7m length and have an average weight of 140kg.
Newborns measure 1m and weigh up to 15kg.
The striped dolphin is fairly easy to identify from its distinctive strips on the sides and from a second black line that stretches from beak, around the eye patch to the underside of the rear flank. These dolphins are very streamlined with a long beak.
These dolphins aren’t very curious and therefore they usually don’t approach vessels. But they enjoy somersaulting as well as breaching to spectacular heights that can go up to three times their size.
Striped dolphins are gregarious species, frequently sighted in social groups of a few tens, although they have been occasionally sighted in larger social groups. They can be frequently found associated to other species of dolphins.

Rough-Toothed-Dolphin - Steno bredanensis
The rough-toothed adult male dolphin (Steno bredanensis) measures between 2 and 2,7m of length and weighs between 120 and 160kg.
The calf is only 1m.
This animal has a conical head and slender nose; they almost seem to merge in one, which makes this species look slimmer than common dolphins. The flippers and the dorsal fin are large and prominent.
The lower jaw and lips are light colored in opposition to the dorsal region which has a dark pattern. The flanks are light grayish-blue colored.
Rough-toothed dolphins are rarely seen near the shore and when it does, than in groups of 10 to 20 animals, but they may be even more than 50 individuals.
The distribution of this species is rather in warm temperate to tropical waters; therefore they are rarely sighted in the Azores.

Fraser’s Dolphin - Lagenodelphis hosei
An adult male Fraser’s dolphin measures between 2 to 2,6m long and weighs 160 to 210 kg.
Calves are about 1m long and weigh about 19 kg at birth.
These animals have a robust body with a long beak. The back is bluish-grey or greyish-brown colored, whilst the belly side is creamy-white or pinkish-white. The flanks have a dark grey to black stripe. Between the back and the stripe is a grey or cream colored line separating them. The flippers are dark, small and pointy.
At the sea, Fraser’s dolphins have an aggressive swimming style. It fears vessels and it is common for this species to swim rapidly away, but sometimes, it bow-rides.
Frasier’s dolphins are typically seen in numerous groups of 10 to 100 individuals, but sometimes it is possible to find groups of more than 1000 animals. Occasionally they were seen associated with other cetaceans such as false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens), Risso’s dolphins (Grampus griseus) and Short-finned Pilot Whale (G. macrorhynchus).
This specie is relatively recent in our waters, having been sighted here for the first time in 2008, on the south side of Pico.

Atlantic Spotted Dolphin - Stenella frontalis
The adult male spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis) can be over 2m long and weigh about 140kg. The female is shorter, never more than 2m of length and has an average weight of 130kg.
Newborns measure about 0, 8cm and 1,2m of length.
The pigmentation of the Spotted Dolphin can be described as tricolor. The dorsal area is darker, contrasting with shades of light gray on the sides, the caudal peduncle and with a whitish shaded belly. The beak is elongated and has a white tip.
The Main feature that distinguishes this species at sea is that adult animals have dark spots on the belly and bright ones on the dorsal and lateral region, whilst the young animals and calves are born without spots and are uniformly gray.
Spotted dolphins are very active. They often follow the boats, with very acrobatic aerial behaviors. It is a gregarious species, forming groups of tens to a few hundred individuals.
They visit the Azorean waters only in summer.

Common Dolphin - Delphinus delphis
The adult male common dolphin (delphinus delphis) measures about 2.5m and weighs between 100 and 200kg.
The calves measure about 80 and 90cm.
At sea, these animals are easily recognized for being very fast and active swimmers enjoying acrobatics. They travel in high-speed and it’s common for them to approach and bow ride on boats.
These animals have an elegant shaped body with a thin beak. The back is dark and the belly is white colored. On each body sides, under the dorsal fin, there is a yellowish bordered and dark “V” on each side.
At sea, Common dolphins are sighted in large groups, which can go up to hundreds of individuals.
Common dolphins can be sighted all year round on the south side of Pico Island.
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