Between Orcas, Sperm whales and Fin whales
by Katharina Heyer
Text: Katharina, pictures: firmm
Everything is happening at the same time!
4th of July: At our first two hour morning trip we found the orcas quite quickly! The fishermen had already advised us that they had seen them far away in the Atlantic during the previous days. Another sign that hinted at their arrival was the presence of pilot whales, the “guardians”….this group of pilot whales were swimming fast to the west to encounter the orcas head on and to protect their young and their territory, as I mentioned in our blogs from previous years.
With all these signs, we could not hold back any longer and despite the short time we had we went towards the fishermen close to the Tangier coast line where the tuna fishing season had begun. On the way we already encountered our first group of dolphins, 100 striped dolphins and a few common dolphins were swimming alongside us for a while. And then the first orcas of the season arrived including two tiny babies! They had obviously eaten enough as they were swimming relaxed away from the fishermen. We saw “Camacho”, the oldest male together with his family of 7 members and the old female a bit further away with her tiny baby!! They are so sweet these tiny orca babies!!
It is a wonderful feeling to see all 16 orcas swimming peacefully together.
On our next trip we also saw a group of pilot whales and a large pod of bottlenose dolphins with a mother and her newborn among them.
Two sperm whales followed
and on the afternoon boat trip two beautiful fin whales.
What an amazing day! All seven species gathered in one day in a time range of six hours! We were very happy, not just to make all the tourists happy but also our students!
We believe it could not have gone better but were proven otherwise…
The 6th of July teached us better:
On the official first orca trip of the season we were lucky to encounter the orcas just after about 35 minutes from departure. It was exciting to be able to follow the entire family to where the fishermen were. Unfortunately the orange boat of Salvamento maritimo was disturbing the animals as they were following them and crossing through their path and especially following the big male recklessly and disturbing him to take close up pictures of the animal.
With the Spanish fishermen we found two other groups of orcas and counted around 23 animals! I cannot remember how long it has been since I saw such a large group but I was very pleased.
Our second boat out on an orca trip was very lucky as well: additionally to seeing 23 orcas the were able to observe 3 diving sperm whales.
Also in our next two hour trips we were surprised:
Just 15 minutes from Tarifa we came coincidently across 3 fin whales swimming towards the Atlantic ocean. In the background we had an amazing view of the white tiny houses of the town of Tarifa. An impressive sight!
After that we came across another big group of hunting striped dolphins and for more surprisingly for our guests, 4 more orcas appeared!
On our way back around 300 striped dolphins could be seen swimming towards the sunset in the Atlantic.
Once again an amazing trip with many unexpected sightings from our “giants”!