The Easter week with firmm
by firmm Team
Text: Brigitte according notes from Katharina, photos: firmm
The first trip of the season on the 08th of April was an impressive experience. The sea was calm and the visibility clear. We were greeted by several hundred lively Striped and Common Dolphins, which accompanied us for a long time and also jumped occasionally. The first sponsored animal we saw this season was the Bottlenose Dolphin White Cap. Followed by a group of Pilot Whales: the large male Oliver with two females. The Tarifa lighthouse has been repainted and shines in the purest white.
On the second day we saw a female Pilot Whale that we had known for a long time. We gave her the name Brigitte. She is often seen and can be easily recognised from afar due to her small notch on the edge of her dorsal fin. The female dolphin Lolly, whom we have known since 2013 and who can easily be identified by the white fungus on her dorsal fin, was swimming in good health in a school of Bottlenose Dolphins.
On the following day, we saw first a group of Bottlenose Dolphins with White Cap and Lolly, followed by a small group of Pilot Whales, with a mother and her tiny newborn in the middle. This is our "Baby Toni" this year, as we traditionally name the first newborn we see at the beginning of the season. The little one was probably only one day old. His dorsal fin was still very soft and hanging limply to the side, and the vertical birth stripes were still clearly visible. He stayed very close to his mother and, as he could not yet swim properly, he "hopped" awkwardly along beside her. Not far away, another group of Pilot Whales appeared, including the stately male Gorro.
The two morning trips on day four brought us many animal sightings and great motives for all photographers on board. Bottlenose Dolphins chased each other, fed and jumped out of the water, including Lolly and White Cap. In a Pilot Whale group we spotted the large male Ponce, accompanied by the female Sierra. Already last year the two were always seen together. Around noon, when the tide was at its highest, a strong poniente (westerly wind) set in, bringing high waves with it.
The fifth day offered us spectacular jumps of the Bottlenose Dolphins and the first Sperm Whale sighting of the season. On two trips we were able to observe the rather small animal. We had good visibility and were able to admire it for quite a while before it majestically dived down. On the last two trips of the day, we had quite high waves, because the so-called "Vaciante" (sinking sea water at low tide) was setting in. The transition from high tide to low tide creates high waves, the infamous “hileros”. The Pilot Whale Fernando was close to the boat for the first time on one of these trips.
Smooth, calm water on the sixth day. It had become warmer, but only for a short while. With the turn from high tide to low tide, Levante (easterly wind) set in and brought with it cold air. The sponsored animals sighted that day were the Pilot Whales Sonja, Pomares and Baby Toni.
Three trips on the seventh day. In a Pilot Whale group we could observe a young calf being suckled by its mother. After it had drunk enough milk, it turned around satisfied and satiated and showed us its belly. In another group, Dracula was swimming, and we were alarmed to find that he had part of a fishing line wrapped around his tail fluke. In a group of dolphins, a medium-sized animal unknown to us with a large light grey spot on its back was swimming.
The crystal-clear water on the eighth day was optimal for photographing the animals underwater. The dolphins and Pilot Whales provided excellent motives as they stayed long and close to the boat. For the first time this year, Franzfin showed herself. Baby Hook was also there with her big family from last year: Edu, Pedro, Triangula and her baby.
Easter Monday was the ninth day with a sensational trip in the afternoon. We were accompanying a group of Bottlenose Dolphins when we saw a very high jump from a dolphin in the direction of the Mediterranean Sea, but still very far away. We estimated the height of the jump to be at least four metres and assumed it was Salto. It jumped at least six more times as high. As we drove near this group of animals, he continued and delighted us with another series of his giant leaps.