The question is … what are cetaceans?

What are cetaceans?

Cetaceans are aquatic animal life, mammals, which are hot-blooded and breathe air through their lungs, therefore they need to come to the surface regularly, to exchange gases.

There are different species of cetaceans, among them, whales and dolphins. The specie of whale most sighted in our archipelago is mainly the Common Whale that can measure up to 20 meters in length (juveniles – 6 meters) and can reach 80 000 kg, more frequent in the Spring and Summer. The Pilot Whale is perhaps the most observed whale, and therefore possible to observe all year round. Reaching nearly 4,5 meters in length (juveniles – 1,5 meters), it can weigh nearly 2 500 kg. The Sperm Whale is another cetacean specie that is possible to observe in our Archipelago , with around 11 to 15 meters in length (juveniles– 4 meters), and weighing (depending on gender) between 20 000kg and 40 000kg. Finally, the Bryde Whale of nearly 13 meters in length (juveniles – 3,5 meters), and weighing around 18 000kg is an occasional presence in our Region.

Dolphins are not an exception to the cetaceans we see. The Common Dolphin of nearly 2 meters in length (juveniles – 0,8m) weighing around 100 kg, is very common in the Archipelago of Madeira, mainly in Autumn/Winter. As well as the Common Dolphin, the
Spotted Dolphin
is also one of the most observed cetaceans in our Region, more predominantly in the Spring and Summer. It measures 2 meters in length (juveniles – 0,9 meters) and weighs nearly 120 kg. The Striped Dolphin is around 2,1 meters (juveniles – 1 meter) and weighs 120 kg. Although it is not as common as the other dolphin species, it is sighted with some frequency. Finally, the Bottlenose Dolphin, also very frequent in the seas of Madeira, all year round. It measures around 3 meters of length (juveniles – 1 meter) and weighs 350 kg.

There are many other species of cetaceans that we can find in our archipelago for example: Blue Whale, Sei Whale, Humpback Whale, Rough-toothed Dolphin and other species, though the sightings of these species are very rare.