Cetaceans are a diverse group which includes whales, dolphins and porpoises.
There are about 78 species of cetaceans around the world, which are further divided into two sub-orders. To date 28 species (either frequently or occasionally) have been confirmed in the archipelago of Madeira, from which 7 belong to the sub-order Mysticeti (cetaceans with beards) and 21 to the sub-order Odontoceti (toothed cetaceans).
The larger whales, belonging to the sub-order Mysticeti use these seas as a crossing point or seasonal residence, where some individuals remain for several months. Fin whales, Bryde’s whales and Sei whales have been observed feeding, and for the first two species the presence of calves was confirmed in these waters.
The sub-order Odontoceti includes several species of dolphins, porpoises, and the sperm whale. The aforementioned species use the waters around the archipelago as a feeding and breeding area. Some species have a seasonal presence (such as the common dolphin) and others an annual residence (like the bottlenose dolphin).
With the increasing effort of observation and study of cetaceans in the waters of Madeira it is possible that species that were not relevant in these waters are now possible to be sighted.
For further information on the biology and ecology of these animals please check the book "Cetáceos no Arquipélago da Madeira".