Why is Madeira a great place to see Cetaceans?

The waters around Madeira Island are clear and with ideal temperature conditions for many species. Therefore, they archipelago has become a great wildlife destination in Europe.

The island used to have an intense whale industry but in 1986 / 1987, the government implemented strict policies against whale harpooning. Whaling has been banned for 200 miles around the archipelago, thus creating a sanctuary for them.
It has also become a reserve for the rare Mediterranean monk seal (lobo marinho).

A great number of whales pass through Madeira each year.
Research say that 28 different species of the 78 known can be seen on this island, from various dolphin species to great blue whales.

In Year 2003, the Fin and Sei whales visiting the island increased the popularity of Madeira. But, thankfully, the government is taking measures to protect them for over tourism. For example, swimming is only allowed with 3 species of dolphins.

Going whale watching in los angeles is one of the classic on the island.

4 tips about the best time to see dolphins ans whales in Madeira

TIP 1 – Overall best months

Many species of dolphins and whales visit the island during different seasons.
I will share more about them later in the article.

But as general rules:

  • You can see whales and dolphins all year round
  • There are always at least 2 or 3 species of whales around
  • Tours are running year round
  • The highest quantity of species is from April to September
  • In Summer, the dolphins generally gather closer to the coast, in more shallow waters
  • There is a much bigger chance of seeing dolphins than whales (they spend a lot of time underwater)

TIP 2 – Morning or afternoon

You can find tours running during the morning, afternoons as well as during sunset.
There is no best time to see the dolphins and whales.
Spotting a whale is not frequent, but the chances of seeing dolphins are very high all day long.

TIP 3 – Species of dolphins & best months

The most common species of dolphins you will see in the waters surrounding Madeira are the Bottlenose dolphins. They live there year-round.

Other species depending on the season:

  • Common dolphin – January to July
  • Striped Dolphin – February to April and July to November
  • Pantropical Dolphin
  • Atlantic Spotted Dolphin – March to October
  • Rough-toothed Dolphin – May to September
  • Risso’s Dolphin – May to October

TIP 4 – Species of whales & best months

The most common whales seen in the waters of Madeira are the Sperm Whale and the Pilot Whale. Adults can normally be seen all year round. There is an abundant supply of food in the ocean such as mackerels and scad.

Other species that could be spotted are:

  • Beaked Whales
  • Fin Whale – April to October and sometimes in Winter too
  • Byrde’s Whale – April to December
  • Sei Whale – March to October – and sometimes in Winter too
  • Humpback Whale – March, April and September to November
  • Minke Whale – May to August – July to September
  • False killer whale

Very very lucky people could even spot an Orca.