The 10th firmm meeting

by firmm Team

Yesterday the 10th firmm meeting took place.
About 250 visitors, trainees, colleagues, friends and interested people followed our invitation to the congress house in Aarau. Katharina welcomed everybody cheerfully and presented the evening program:
Prof. David Senn, member of the board of firmm reported about the Transatlantic crossing with his solar catamaran. The marine biologist Michael Casanova gave a lecture on Sperm Whales and, towards the end of the program showed an extract from the documentary film by Daniele Grieco about firmm , the whales and dolphins in Tarifa.

Katharina started with a review of firmm´s past ten years. She spoke of the difficult initiation she had to go through in a macho land like Spain, the sluggish bureaucracy, and the resentment of the local people here in Tarifa. Nevertheless, she was able to report about her success. Thousands of people have learned about the protection of whales and dolphins through the excursions and lectures experienced during their stay.
Lectures since 1998 in Switzerland:


From the first Zodiac

C1 Belluga

to the new boat for 60 passengers that is going to be part of firmm in spring, it has been a long way.


Tarifa changed a lot and is still changing. A giant port will be built which will stretch across a big part of the rocky coast.


The old harbor has been reconstructed as well. It is fortunate that firmm was able to rent an office in the port.


The work of the foundation firmm could not have been done without the Volunteers. Katharina introduced them and thanked all of them for their dedication.


The marine biologist Michael Casanova told us the latest news about the Sperm Whales.

Sperm Whales in the Strait of Gibraltar:


Last year more Sperm Whales were seen than ever before. In June 81 sightings took place, and on the 8th of July a mating was observed. Casanova commented that a small sperm whale might be spotted after the 14 month gestation period.
The natural habitat of these animals is and is going to be strongly influenced by the shipping traffic in the Straits of Gibraltar.With his report, Michael Casanova said goodbye to firmm. After two years with firmm he looks forward to new challenges.

An important member of the foundation, Prof. David Senn, always knows how to fascinate his listeners. He told about his Atlantic crossing with a solar driven catamaran called Sun 21.


The starting point was Sevilla, the destiny Martinique.
The crew experienced the whole beauty of the Atlantic ocean but also had to survive storms on a 14m long and 6.4 meter broad boat. While the Sun 21 made its way southwest through the Ocean with about 100 sea miles per day, Prof. David Senn analyzed plankton.
Because of the high swells he could not photograph his objects of study under the microscope. That is why he started to draw exact pictures of the plankton. Some of what he fished out of the
Ocean was still unknown, even to him.


With a lot of enthusiasm he talked about his discoveries. The journey with Sun 21 was successful. Sun 21 was the first solar-driven boat to cross the Atlantic. In February 2007 the Swiss reached Martinique.
Sure enough, there was a lot of interest from the media.
And even more: The successful crew under the direction of Dr. Martin Vosseler was presented with the European Solar Award. Their achievement was registered in the Guinness Book of Records, as well.

After the break Katharina talked about the Morocco project. The elapsed year was conflicting. On one hand the project aroused interest among responsible authorities. On the other hand there is still lots of uncertainty after two years of planning.

Just about one week ago there was a reverse. The bay intended for the Dolphin Resort could become - together with an American investor - the rescue centre of the firmm foundation. For this smaller project the already leased land would be big enough. Katharina found another bay for the Dolphin Resort which is located a little more eastwards, fulfilling all the project´s necessities. But the land is owned by four different Moroccan people which is going to lead once more to difficult negotiations. Nevertheless, Katharina is confident that the construction will start soon.

The last event of the evening was an extract from the documentary film by Daniele Grieco. He showed spectacular pictures of whales and dolphins in the Straits of Gibraltar and the work of the foundation firmm. It took him months to get these images - and sometimes the conditions have been dangerous too.
In the end a stunning portrait emerged about an animal world that needs our help more than ever before.

As you can see this was an exciting and very informative year.

Text Yvonne Zollinger

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