Season review 2018
by Jörn Selling
Photos: Katharina Heyer, Jörn Selling and Antonio Reyes.
Tarifa was relatively mild in the season of 2018, the often strong "Levante" wind did not show much. Therefore we hardly had to go to the bay of Gibraltar, where despite the big environmental problems, there are still common dolphins.
Actually the "uncommon", larger groups only exist around Malta and Gibraltar, because they are becoming rarer and rarer in the Mediterranean. We have seen them in small groups or as part of schools of striped dolphins.
Striped dolphins sometimes appear in large groups in the Strait of Gibraltar. It is difficult to capture the impression on pictures because they never appear at the same time.
Bottlenose dolphins are the most acrobatic of the dolphins. This summer many of them were seen with their ribs visible, which should not be the case with a good food supply!
We've seen pilot whales less often than in other years. Normally they swim west against the constant Atlantic-current flowing into the Mediterranean. At high tide they can relax because the current decreases, then they are further west. This summer, however, the pilot whales did not stick so much to that. Wherever they are, they prefer to move close to each other.
"Lola" is a pilot whale in whose dorsal fin a small wound has become a rotting injury. The development of the wound is reminiscent of the case of "Curro", who died at the end because of his inflammation.
Also not very common among pilot whales is when they "breach". Even more rarely they jump completely out of the water.
The Orcas travel the Atlantic in 5 groups, less than 50 in total. They come to the Strait of Gibraltar from April to November to hunt tuna or to get their share from the fishermen. This summer we have seen little of them. It has been rumoured that the fishermen are taking aggressive actions against them once again, or that they hunted elsewhere.
2018 wasn't a good sperm whale year. There were virtually no sightings in July and August. They have always avoided the Strait of Gibraltar in midsummer, but seeing so few is disturbing.
The fin whales are the rarest and swim often alone or in pairs, exceptionally there are up to five. In the summer, they move out into the Atlantic. Almost all are strongly infested with parasitic blood-sucking copepods.
We wish everyone a good season 2019, both to the whales and their observers!