Hileros del Sur

by firmm Team

Text: Brigitte, Photos: firmm Antonio

On a sunny, cloudless August day we set off for a two-hour excursion in the afternoon. In the oppressive heat we had been experiencing in Tarifa for weeks, everyone was looking forward to the cool breeze on the ocean. The outward journey was pleasantly quiet. The tide was one of the highest of the year with a coefficient of 1.03. And so, we knew that after some time a phenomenon was waiting for us, which we call in Tarifa the Hileros del Sur.

The Hileros are a shear flow. Two currents shear against each other and produce waves that run crosswise.

This leads to a sometimes very turbulent sea, because the intensity of the waves can vary greatly. In the Strait of Gibraltar these shear currents are common, but they build up even more as the wind increases and the tide rises. It looks almost like boiling water in a kettle. In spite of the intense rocking on the boat, these tours with Hileros are among those that stick in your memory. Because in the big waves there is often an immensely large number of marine mammals playing around.

And that happened also on this day: Pilot Whales, Bottlenose Dolphins and Common Dolphins enjoyed themselves together in this rough sea. They really liked to surf, jump, and frolic in the waves. There were so many that it was not necessary for Katharina to announce them through the microphone. Right beside the boat, in front, then again on the left side and behind. There were animals everywhere. Everybody could easily observe the turmoil around the ship. Bottlenose Dolphins offered huge jumps and even mothers with young swam in the waves. Well-known Pilot Whales like Baby Hook and Vicenta were also there and had a lot of fun in the waves.

Our crew enjoyed the spectacle. Antonio, one of our captains, watched everything with enthusiasm. "Que barbaridad" he exclaimed repeatedly, which can be translated as "This is madness".

The guests on board were also overwhelmed by the show. You do not see so many whales and dolphins, who are so active, every day. At some point it was time to leave for our home port and as soon as we had left the Hileros' zone, the sea calmed down immediately, and the return trip was just as calm as the outward journey.

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