Sensational ORCA days!

by firmm Team

Text: Brigitte Photos: firmm

When we set off for the three-hour trip at 10.00 am on Saturday, the 24th of July, there were no fishermen to be seen for miles around, apart from four Moroccan pateras (small wooden boats used for fishing). The Spaniards do not fish on Saturdays and Sundays and the illegal tuna fishermen were not at sea either.

The small pateras were scattered far and wide; we had only seen a few of them for a week. And so, we finally found the Orcas hunting for tuna alone. There were several groups, all females with their young. Lucia was also there, with her baby, who we spontaneously named Manuela. They managed to catch a very large tuna; the tail fin was still sticking out of the mouth of one of the females. They were enjoying the feast. We saw a total of 15 Orcas that day, including five calfs and the new-born Manuela. Camorro, the imposing male of this group, swam apart from the others, far away in the direction of Tangier. There he was fishing alone.

Knowing exactly where the Orcas were, we then headed west on the following two-hour trip to the same area. And indeed, we encountered all 15 Orcas again. As the guests had not expected to see any Orcas on this tour, the surprise and joy was all the greater when they were announced over the loudspeakers. And so, this trip was also an absolute sensation.

On the 30th of July, the fog had enshrouded Tarifa to such an extent that we had to cancel the first trips of the day. Shortly before the third excursion at 3 p.m., the mist finally lifted, and nothing prevented the scheduled three-hour tour. We immediately headed west to look for the Orcas. We actually found them in the midst of many fishing boats. There were about 18 Orcas feeding in small groups of 4-5. It was a pleasure to watch them. When we had already started our return journey, we saw another group of Orcas swimming towards us at 11 o'clock. Or so we thought. As it turned out, they were not Killer Whales, but Pilot Whales. We were a bit surprised by the sight of the animals, as they are normally not seen this far west. But the most unusual thing was that they swam towards the Orcas at a fast speed, as if they wanted to chase them away.

At the beginning of the following tour, we knew that the Pilot Whales had probably driven the Orcas even further west. As the weather was good and the waves not too high, we went to the area anyway and made good progress. There were hardly any fishermen left on the water. On our way we encountered a group of Common Dolphins. The Orcas were not to be seen. When we had already passed Tangier on the Moroccan side and were already past Zahara de los Atunes on the Spanish side, we saw them: Lucia with Manuela and 5 other animals.
The atmosphere was very different from the previous trip with all the fishermen around us. Much calmer. Two young ones joined us at the back of the boat and played in the churning water of the stern. This was a joyful end to this successful „Orca “-day ...

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