Is there hope for the fin whales?

by firmm Team

Text by Jörn Selling, marine biologist
Photos: firmm

On the return from a wonderful excursion with a lot of dolphin- and pilot whale sightings last Sunday evening, we discovered a small blow very close to the Isla de las Palomas situated near Tarifa. We hurried up to get close to the whales, and to our big surprise we saw two finback whales appear: a mother with her calf!

The calf kept very close to the mighty body of its mother. They disappeared together for a few minutes, and then they came out again at the same time.

003 Kopf an Kopf näher

Calf and mother head-to-head.

026 kleiner Blas Kalb näher

The small blow belongs to the calf that rests behind the mother.

3 Streifen Körper

This has been the first sighting of a finback calf since 1998 and this is hopefully a sign for a new beginning. Between 1920 and 1960 about 5000 sperm whales and fin whales were killed by the whalers positioned at two whaling bases in the Strait of Gibraltar. If there has ever been a local population of fin whales, it has been extinguished. Meanwhile, the knowledge of the migration route of the finbacks living in the Mediterranean Sea was lost, as the whalers selected those whales that left the Mediterranean Sea every summer towards the Atlantic Ocean and the North of Spain.

The sighting of a calf could mean that those few "insiders" who survived now pass their knowledge on to the young generation. What a promising thought!

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