Impressions of a course participant

by firmm Team

Text and photos: Monika Wittwer

Full of expectations I left for Spain on Sunday. The course started on Monday morning with Katharina's introduction about the foundation firmm and the different species which live in the Strait of Gibraltar. In the afternoon the first trip took place with the new boat "firmm Spirit". During this trip we saw Pilot whales and Bottlenose Dolphins. On the second trip of the day we were able to learn about the playful and acrobatic side of the Bottlenose Dolphins. They had showed a lot of jumps, rollings and greetings with their tail fins.

02 D Schwanzflosse

03 D rückwärts

On Tuesday the strong wind did not allow for any tours. Therefore we went hiking with Jörn to a sand dune in Bolonia, 15 km away from Tarifa. At the edge of the dune we found fossils from former reefs.

On Wednesday we had the chance to do two tours, this time with the smaller boat, the "firmm Uno". It was amazing how the Bottlenose Dolphins swam towards the boat. In the small boat you feel like you are swimming right along with the Dolphins!

06 D Blasloch

On this trip we also saw a Mola-Mola (ocean sunfish) very close to the boat.

07 Mola Mola

On Thursday a strong wind ("Levante") ripped through Tarifa so we went on an excursion to a rock coast with Jörn, the biologist. At this rock coast you can find enormous marine diversity during low tide. And we found plenty of creatures: Sea urchin, Sea cucumber, Anemone and common hermit crabs.

09 Seestern

On Friday we left the harbour with the "firmm Spirit" to do our fifth and last whale watching tour. The weather was not very nice, it was raining heavily. But as soon as we had left the harbour, the sun was shining through the clouds again. This time we met a family of Striped Dolphins with one baby. For a short time a few Common dolphins appeared on the fore. At the end of this tour we saw a pod of Pilot whales and their pups.

11 3 stripedD

I was a little bit disappointed since I had not seen any Fin whales and Sperm whales during the whole week. I therefore decided to book a whale watching tour again on Sunday morning, right before my departure. And there they were! We sighted two Sperm whales. How impressive to watch these up to 18 metres large animals bending their bodies before diving into the depth of the sea!

12 Pottwalfluke

I have learned a lot in this course. In his lectures Jörn clearly expressed how much damage we humans have already caused and keep on doing to nature. His words are really direct and therefore sometimes shocking, but this is the only way they will impress for a long time.

Unfortunately, this week passed way too fast and so I left Tarifa with mixed feelings. On one hand I was happy and grateful for the amazing experiences with the animals. On the other hand I was sad because I realized the ongoing habitat loss which is caused by our reckless handling of nature.

I express my gratitude to Katharina and Jörn for this great week. Your work is remarkable!

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