Mondrino part 3

by firmm Team

Text: Bernd-Uwe Krause

An exceptional day, even for Tarifa. During the morning tour at 10 AM, we did not see any animal at all. Long faces, we followed firmm´s offer and repeated the tour in the afternoon. The tour started at 4 PM. Abounded in curiosity. The west-wind still blew quite hard as firmm Spirit took course towards Africa. The waves slapped strongly against the starboard side of the boat. Close to the new harbour on the Moroccan side of the Strait, the boat turned and followed the course towards the Mediterranean Sea. Still no sightings. I stood with a few other passengers at the front keeping lookout for the animals. Almost an hour went by as we changed course again, towards the Spanish coast. Would we already have to return? Then there was Jörn’s (the marine biologist of firmm) voice in the speaker, saying that he’d spotted Bottlenose Dolphins.

Again we changed course, now heading out towards the Atlantic Ocean. As we were still standing there watching the Dolphins, Jörn announced on the speaker that there were three Sperm Whales in front of us. I looked there. First, another whale watching boat caught my eye. But then suddenly I saw a blow, then a smaller one. I tried to get a better view but the distance was quite big. Dolphins appeared close to the starboard side of our boat.

Suddenly things got very exciting. Out of nowhere a tiny motorboat appeared and drove with high speed directly towards the whales and the other boat. I was thinking: is that guy crazy, with such speed?!

Shortly after that, we heard that the whales had been diving down. Simultaneously I could see how the two boats turned towards the Atlantic Ocean and followed the course with high speed. Jörn told us that the big whale we had just seen might have been Mondrino with her two calves, and that firmm had already established contact with that particular whale in the past.

Mondrino... pictures appeared in my mind, Mondrino, three years ago I had seen this whale for the first time. I could clearly see the photo I took of its fluke, which disappeared slowly into the water.

Jörn´s voice pulled me out of my reminiscing.  He told us that he was not willing to join this chase. I was relieved.

I looked again towards the front. What was this? A short distance away but still clearly visible the blow of two whales. I was confused.

Then the explanation of Jörn came. He assumed that the whale mother wanted the attention of the other two boats to lure them away from her calves. I could strongly feel my heartbeat. The dolphins’ dorsal fins danced close to the young whales. Some of the dolphins also came to our boat, adding to everybody’s excitement. I tried to get some of those impressions on my video camera. But, due to the waves, they would probably only turn out to be notorious heaven- water- images.

Suddenly, other shouts of excitement. The two young whales descended, showing us their flukes.


Fluke of one calf

I really hoped that they were not going to be separated from their mother any longer. That was most exciting and I guessed that was it for today.

But then, again excited voices. What, Mondrino is swimming towards our boat? I ran inside the boat, catching a good place on the window.

It was like a dream. Slowly Mondrino came to the boat. The animal lay so close to the boat that we could almost touch her. The water on her back glittered with the slow standing sun.



Then a small blow. Water drops rolled off the dorsal fin. I felt a lump in my throat. Where actually was this whale’s head when the body was so close to the boat? A few moments later, the huge body slowly sank and, without any apparent movement, down into the deepness. I was overwhelmed, blanketed by this feeling of admiration and thankfulness.

Later, in our talks we discussed the question of why Mondrino and her two calves came into the Strait of Gibraltar. It is a question which leaves a lot of space to wonder about our relationship with animals.

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