Dolphin and Whale watching in Portugal is a popular past time with all those who visit the country. The sight of giant whales, leaping out of the surface only to disappear after a twirl is an awe inspiring experience of its unmatched kind. Dolphin and Whale-watching in Portugal can mostly be done in Azore.
The Azores and the narrow gap between Faial and Pico are the places which are frequented by various types of whales and numerous types of dolphins. In the past lookout towers called Vigias were built in strategic positions, usually high on the mountains. From here experienced searchers watched for the arrival of the sperm whales and sent messages for the whale hunting boats to be launched.
Today the Vigias are used by watchers to radio to the powerful Rigid Inflatable Boats who can then take their passengers directly to the area where the whales are swimming. The boats can maneuver to within 50 meters of these enormous mammals thereby enabling a fantastic and a detailed view.
In the case of dolphins, however, the boats can maneuver much closer. When the condition is right parties of 3 persons including a guide, can actually swim with the dolphins.
The watchers ensconced safely on the Vigias also keep an eye on the RIBs for the duration of their voyage. This is done for safety reasons. The boats are fully equipped for complete safety and all passengers are made to wear life jackets.
The time taken for whale and dolphin watching in Portugal is about 3-4 hours. The excursions are priced individually. Usually as many excursions as you wish can be arranged. Excursions are arranged in groups of between 8 to 23 persons. There are two organizations in Faial and one in Pico which operate these excursions.
Sperm Whales are the largest and most numerous which can be found in these waters. They are identified by photographs taken of the undersides of their flukes when diving. The other toothed Whales frequently spotted are Northern Bottlenose Whales, Pilot Whales, Orcas and Sowerby’s Beaked Whales. The dolphins sighted regularly in these waters are Common, Atlantic Bottlenose, Risso, Atlantic Spotted and Striped dolphins.