On our way towards the southernmost atoll of the Maldives we suddenly see something like a big wave coming towards our boat. It actually is a huge school of dolphins. Those are Indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins - Tursiops aduncus. This species has been recognized only since 1998 as distinct from the bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus. The animals are generally smaller - up to 2.7 m - and have longer snouts than T. truncatus. Indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins live in the waters around India, northern Australia, south China, the Red Sea and the eastern coast of Africa.
We encountered a so called superpod, which gathers once in a while with hundreds of individuals. Superpods emerge temporarily out of smaller groups of dolphins often in places with abundance of food. They behaved really crazy while jumping and even doing somersaults out of the water. So for us it looked more like socializing than hunting together. At one point approximately 30 dolphins were swimming on our bow and looking at us quite interested. Wonderful to see that there are still so many dolphins around. But like many other species the Indo-pacific bottlenose dolphin is also threatened with extinction.
here's a short video of the superpod
A few days later we even had a more special encounter with a few minke whales. As usual while sitting down for breakfast during our trip Tom spots a strange fin and at first doesn't really know what this could be. Suddenly there is a minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) next to us taking a deep breath with a loud noise. Minke whales belong to the baleen whales who have baleen plates instead of teeth for filtering food from water. The food usually consists of small fish or krill. Minke whales like to jump out of the water, called breaching, which we are able to observe from farther away. We can count at least 6 individuals and there are maybe even more slowly swimming toward the north outside of Gaafu atoll. We are impressed by the big crescent shaped dorsal fin which you can see every time they come up to breath. Minke whales grow to a length between 7 and 10 meters. Sadly those fascinating animals are still hunted and killed brutally. The Japanese whaling fleet just took off to "scientifically sample" the north pacific population ... Norway has killed 729 whales in 2014. The population worldwide is estimated to be 300.000 animals - so at the moment at least the species is not endangered.
We enjoy the time to see some of those whales before we continue our way towards the south.

dorsal fin of Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) west of Gaafu
Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) next to our boat
Indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) looking at us
Superpod of indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus)

project manaia

Krüss Mikroskope