Start of the new season on the 8th of April 2022

The 2021 season is now over. We look forward to welcoming you back on the 8th of April 2022.

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

Such a perfect day

by firmm Team

Text: Marleen Caris, Fotos: Albert Rietjens; Volontäre bei firmm

Monday, 21st September 2015. Today, after two days of strong Levante (an easterly wind coming from the Mediterranean Sea), we finally were able to go on the water again.
Since early this morning the Strait of Gibraltar was calling me.

As a volunteer for the non-profit foundation firmm, I was on the boat “Spirit” as a guide. Just before boarding at 1 pm I held a presentation about firmm’s goals because firmm is strongly dedicated towards protecting the marine mammals in the Strait of Gibraltar.
Every time it’s very rewarding, when, because of this, people become aware of the bigger picture concerning the seas and the impact we humans and our garbage have on these mammals. Mammals that are so similar to us despite their aqueous habitat.

  

The sea was fairly calm. Soon a small group of Bottlenose dolphins came along in front of the boat, but they swam on quickly. Of course we did not chase the animals, only to be able to see them better. This because of the respectful attitude we have towards the marine mammals.

After a while we encountered my favourite species of dolphins, a family of Pilot whales. It turned out to be the family of Zackzack (with her half dorsal fin) and Franzfin, animals also available for adoption. The Pilot whales were very relaxed and were just floating on the water with once in a while a lazy movement, coming very close to the Spirit.
On top of the boat, the founder of firmm Katharina Heyer commented that the animals were obviously taking it easy. This because of two days of wild and rough sea and currents they had to battle against continuously. Soon after, we met some other families in the same area and also Corte. Clearly they all were relaxing as well. Already two very nice hours on the water had passed.

  

At 5 pm the Spirit went out for the last time that day. This time I could board as a “volunteer off duty”, meaning plenty of time to enjoy the trip to the fullest. In the meantime the sea had transformed to a mild environment with a minimum of swell and only a few waves. At first we saw nothing, except for some Sun fish.

And then, on the high seas of this often impetuous Strait, everything transformed to the special spectacle of an almost motionless and very quiet, oily surface.
Suddenly, from a distance, we saw families of Pilot whales all around us. And one family was slowly coming towards us.


    

It was once again the family of Zackzack! But this time the family dazzled us with an uncommonly lively spectacle, almost as if they performed a small private show especially for us.


    

They were splashing, they carried out big jumps (very rare among Pilot whales!). They slapped their tails, showing off their fluke like a Sperm whale. And they swam on their backs sticking their flippers up in the air!

    

What great fun for them and such a joy for us! And not only were we able to hear the blowing and snorting sounds of their breaths. We could clearly hear the joyful singing of the Pilot whales as well; a song full with “clicks’ and ‘cheeps”: truly wonderful.
It seemed as if they were thinking after these wild unsettling days full of Levante: ‘what a perfect day’, and now were totally celebrating it with great pleasure.

   

With deeply felt contentment I was watching this beautiful spectacle on the quiet sea. And the whole way back I was happily humming “such a perfect day...... (Lou Reed)”; so much harmony, so much freedom. What an opportunity to be able to be part of this while volunteering for firmm.

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