The season 2020 has ended

The summer holidays are over and Tarifa's streets have been empty since the beginning of September. We have therefore also closed down for this year.

Despite the short season we had many special sightings. We hope that the situation will become normal by the next season and can't wait to take you out to see the whales again from the 26th of March 2021 on.

See you soon in Tarifa, Katharina Heyer and the firmm team

Sightings of the animals available for adoption 2018

by Katharina Heyer

Photos: Katharina Heyer und firmm

Pilot whales

We have seen Baby Hook 35 times. She is one of the most trusting females and likes to come to the boat or to swim underneath the boat. It seems as if she would like to contact us. Mostly she is accompanied by her three-year-old young, who likes being under the boat, especially close to the windows with the curious tourists. Pedro and Edu are always to be found in her family.

Pedro: was also sighted 35 times always simultaneously with Baby Hook.He seems to be a friendly pilot whale, because he is always accompanied. Pedro is well protected in the family of Edu and often accompanies Baby Hook when she swims curiously under our boat.

Edu: his instinct to protect his group is still enormous. We remember how we witnessed him cleaning the wound of the badly wounded Curro with one punch so that it could scar better afterwards.We have seen Edu also 35 times, most often in July.

Franzfin: is still one of the largest pilot whales in the Strait of Gibraltar. Since this year he has some superficial abrasions on his back. But we can always recognize him by the shape of his dorsal fin, which has a tiny knob. We have seen him nine times from close up. Often he was a little further away from the boat in groups, e.g. on the 27th of July in a group of 40 pilot whales.

Nina, Oliver and Baby Hook on the 14th of June Pedro on the 17th of April Edu on the 3rd of July Franzfin on the 29th of June

Dientes we have seen the whole season together with Fernando and a third pilot whale. The three seemed inseparable. We've seen them over 50 times in the team of three. Now and then they also joined larger groups, for example when they had to celebrate the birth of a young pilot whale, like on July 18th in a group of 20 pilot whales.

Fernando was always accompanied by Dientes and the third pilot whale without name. We always wondered if the third one was a female or a male. Fernando's white spot on his dorsal fin has recovered well from the badly attached chip. You can still see the spot, but it is getting smaller every year. We have also seen him more than 50 times.

Johnny: we've only seen Johnny about 10 times. This may be because his identification mark is not recognizable from afar and he was not recognized in larger groups. He was also in the group of 70 on March 27th, when they probably celebrated a pilot whale family gathering. We also saw him in several families, i.e. he does not only seem to feel comfortable in one family.

Sierra with her rather small dorsal fin is well recognizable. She was exclusively in the family of Ponce, the striking male. We have seen her 25 times, from March to November. She seems to be one of the pilot whales that really reside here.

Dientes on the 20th of July Fernando and Dientes on the 20th of July Johnny on the 13th of August Sierra on the 13th of August

Ponce we always saw at the same time as Sierra, 25 times. In his group he is the leader or "pilot whale" who seems to take care of his family. He also took part with his family in the family gathering on the 27th of March and seems to remain faithful to the Strait of Gibraltar.

Nina is a female pilot whale. She became a mother in 2016. Nina still lovingly took care of her offspring, who could still be seen with her. The calf hardly moves away from the mother, but has recently become more curious and has often sought the proximity of the boat. Both swim in Oliver's family.

We noticed Oliver years ago, but we never gave him a name. This year we decided to call him Oliver. He is a big, robust and dominant pilot whale male and obviously feels very comfortable in his family. He is easily recognizable by his distinctive dorsal fin.

Gorro is one of the most frequently encountered pilot whales. Thanks to its cap-shaped fin, we can identify him from a distance. We have noted him over 50 times. This year he attracted attention as a constant companion of the badly injured Lola from June onwards. He seemed to protect her and help her. If we sighted Gorro, then Lola was always to be found in close vicinity.

Ponce and Sierra in the Background on the 01st of October Nina on the 13th of July Oliver on the 27th of July Gorro on the 03 of May

Lola's tale of suffering: This female pilot whale first caught our attention at the end of May 2018 when she had a small rectangular wound in the middle of her dorsal fin. In my opinion, it came from a poorly fitted chip. Unfortunately, the wound grew quite quickly. In June and July the injury was so badly infected that it gave us cause for concern. In October the inflammation decreased a bit, but since then the fin is almost split in two with a conspicuous hole in the middle. During the whole time she was accompanied and protected by the big pilot whale male Gorro. We wish Lola a good recovery and hope to meet her again in spring 2019!  

Lola with rectangular wound on the 24th of May Lola on the 11th of June Lola on the 11th of June Lola on the 29th of June Lola on the 13th of July Lola and Gorro on the 20th of July Lola on the 6th of November

Vicenta:we saw the female known to us since 2001 rather rarely. She keeps away from the boats, probably because of the bad experience she had when her injuries were caused. We saw her on average once a month. An exception was July 27th, when she appeared in an active, almost cheerful pilot whale family. The youngsters in the group were floating, tailslapping or breaching.

Baby Tony: since we always call the youngest offspring among the pilot whales, i.e. all newborn pilot whale babies, Baby Toni, we had a tough time this summer. They were all very lively and curious and kept the respective families busy, because they liked to come on their own to and under the firmm boat! This pleased our guests on board, but also our crew could often not get enough.

Pomares is by far the largest male of his family. He normally swims leisurely. Apart from a conspicuous notch in the upper part of his dorsal fin, he has several superficial skin injuries that are clearly visible on both sides.

Although Willy doesn't count to the biggest males, he seems to be very popular with the pilot whale-ladies. In addition to the four very distinctive notches, he has a white spot in the middle of his dorsal fin. We only named him on September 10th when we saw him mating. But we have known him for quite some time.

Vicenta on the 10th of October Baby Tony on the 22nd of May Pomares on the 21st of October Willy on the 9th of September

Bottlenose dolphins

Lolly we've seen a lot. She is always accompanied by her third calf, who was born in 2017. This has developed into a cheeky and curious little bottlenose dolphin. Her fungal skin infection still seems to be the same size and she gives the impression of being well. It is always a pleasure to meet Lolly's group of about 20 animals. We saw them 15 times and interestingly not at all in July and August.

White Cap is always fast and visible from a distance. She also has a young one from 2017, which we called Fortunato. She protects it and the two always swim close together. They moved in a group of about 12 bottlenose dolphins and were spotted 17 times.

Salto, the eagerly jumping bottlenose dolphin had shown himself 11 times; and how he showed himself: high in the air. He was photographed for the first time on June 8th. Especially after the change of tides, which often caused high waves, he was seen jumping. He was not often close to the boat, but was rather observed in the distance.

Cutty with her slightly chipped dorsal fin we could often see close to the boat. She is well integrated into a bottlenose dolphin family and is one of the strongest. We only noted her eight times, but that doesn't mean that she wasn't in the area more often.

We didn't see Puzzle often or probably we didn’t recognize her when she was at a distance from the boat. She was difficult to photograph because she is always seen in a larger family and surrounded by her group members.

Loly on the 22nd of June Whitecap on the 01st of May Salto on the 02nd of April Cutty on the 25th of June Puzzle on the 04th of April

Orcas

We have seen Camorro grow up and know him already 21 years. We look forward to seeing him every year. His family has grown in the meantime. The last time on October 17th, on that lucky day, when the orcas were unexpectedly spotted again, the whole pod counted 14 animals with several juveniles.

Amongst them were Baby Wilson, the old grandmother, the "Matriarchin", Lucia with the little Estrella, Jara, the young from winter 2017 and Tina, the newborn Orca baby who saw the light of day in October. We had seen Tina yellowish/black on October 11th, when she was just a few days old.

Matriarchin was, to our great pleasure, present during the first sighting on the 26th of June. She had not visited the Strait of Gibraltar for two years and for that reason we had not seen her. She seems to be well, surrounded by her family.

Baby Wilson is now one of the biggest of the kids. He (or maybe a she?) is still very curious and often brings his younger siblings to the boat. With the fishermen out there he is usually busy fishing on his own, or at least learning from the adults. He is therefore often to be found with his mother or also with Camorro.

We had never seen Lucia with Estrella during the whole summer and we were a bit worried. The joy was all the greater when we discovered her on October 17th accompanied by Estrella. Both seem to be in good health and Estrella hardly left her mother's side.

Camorro on the 03rd of July Matriarchin on the 28th of June Baby Wilson on the 30th of June Lucía and Estrella on the 17th of October

Sperm whale

Observador we have seen this season only on May 3rd and 26th. He came as we are used to, close to the boat to dive down leisurely and majestically. He always causes applause and great attention at the boat with the guests.

Observador on the 03rd of May

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