Whales and Dolphins in Madeira
The beauty of Madeira does not end with just the spectacular landscape and graceful play of slopes and mountains. Even the water that surrounds it is filled with so much beauty. Because of the amazing temperature and pristine cleanliness of the water around this island, numerous sea creatures found their home here.
Thousands of tourists rush to this archipelago all year round to be able to witness the charming dolphins and see the magnificent whales. Arranging for tours will enable one to catch a glimpse of these wondrous animals. Madeira is a great place to see whales and dolphins. The waters around the island are visited by more than 20 species of dolphins and whales throughout the year. The best time is from April to October, since then most of the species are present.
It was in the year 2003 when the popularity of Madeira escalated because of the Fin and Sei whales which visit the surrounding waters, particularly during the winter months. The good thing is that even if this island is being promoted as a popular destination for tourist whale and dolphin excursions, the government is taking precautionary measures to ensure that these sea creatures remain undisturbed.
Watching the Glorious Whales
Whale watching excursions are among the most popular activities here in Madeira. There are several tour-providing companies which can arrange for the trips. Visitors just have to book for a schedule and they will be accompanied by guides. Various species of whales can be seen teasingly swimming just five kilometers away from the shore.
In 1987, the government implemented strict policies against whale harpooning. No one is allowed to catch these animals and Madeira was officially declared as a mammal sanctuary. Hence, this island is now known across Europe as the best destination for whale watching trips.
Watch the variety of Whale Species
The Sperm Whale and the Pilot Whale are the more common sights in Madeira waters. Usually, the adult whales can be seen swimming around almost all year round. Sometimes, they appear in groups, along with the little ones. Beaked Whales may be rare in other places but in some occasions, this type of whale can also be seen in this island.
The surrounding water of Madeira also attracts Fin, Byrde’s and Sei Whales. It is because there is an abundant supply of food in the ocean such as mackerels and scad. Other types of whale which can be seen in this island include the Sei Whale and Humpback Whale. The whale watching experience in this archipelago is an experience which is impossible to forget. Other whales that can be seen on Madeira: Minke Whale, False killer whale and the Bryde's Whale.
Best Time to watch whales in Madeira - Calendar of presence
Madeira Whale Museum
In the village of Caniçal a whale museum is found. If you are interested in these beautiful animals then this museum is definitely worthwhile a visit. The museum is open all year from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00. It is closed on 25 and 26 December, 1 January and on Easter Sunday. Entrance fees are 10 euros for adults and children under 6 are free. Tip, every third Saturday of the month between 10 am and 1 pm you get a 50% discount.
Marvelous Experience: spot the dolphins
The fun at Madeira does not stop with just whale watching. Aside from these amazing creatures, there are also other animals which excite both locals and visitors.
Smaller cetaceans reside within Madeira waters. The most common ones are the Pantropical and Atlantic Dolphins. They may not be trained but on the right moment, these creatures will also showcase some of their innate talents. It is definitely an astounding sight to witness them twirling and jumping off the water, doing their impressive acrobatic skills.
There are different types of dolphins which can be seen in Madeira. Among the ones which are usually seen here are the Atlantic Spotted Dolphin, Risso’s Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin, Rough Toothed Dolphin and the Striped Dolphin.
Best Time to watch dolphins in Madeira - Calendar of presence
The summer months are the perfect time for dolphin watching. Usually, they gather in more shallow parts of the ocean. Sometimes, the dolphins are seen in groups with 6 to 12 dolphins swimming together. On other days, there are almost hundreds of them, waddling, bathing under the sunny weather, feeding and enjoying the temperate water.
Whale and dolphin Tours and Excursions
There are several companies that provide dolphin and whale watching tours. Most operators offer 2 or 3 trips per day. Contact the operator for the exact departure days and times. In the high season it is wise to book your tour a few days in advance. Most trips last 2 to 3 hours and cost around the 40 to 50 euros per person. You should wear a warm sweater or jacket as you go in small and fast boats to the open sea. Sun protector and a hat is recommended. If you want to swim with the dolphins (which is not always possible) bring your swimming suit with you. A snorkel and mask will be provided.
Rota dos Cetáceos is one of best of the tour operators located in Funchal. Sometimes it is also possible to swim with the dolphins. Small fast boats take you to the dolphins and whales. It's great to watch whales and dolphins in their natural habitat. However, respect these beautiful but vulnerable animals. Activities must not be harmful or disruptive in their environment!
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