The long-awaited first trip

by Katharina Heyer

Off to sea again!

Text: Katharina Photos: firmm/Sebastian Kanzler

After a 9-month break without being on the sea, we were very curious to see what animals we would encounter. The weather was overcast and a bit windy. 70 people, young and old, were on the ship with us. There was also a mixture of languages from foreigners and locals, I had to make the announcements on the boat already in four languages.

As in previous years, the information talks on land, the charlas, which are always much appreciated, were given by our dedicated staff.

The boat crew all agreed on one thing: At last we are on the boat again!

We headed towards Morocco. It did not take long before we spotted the first family of Pilot Whales moving west. Many more Pilot Whales should follow.

In the first group I saw already from a distance Baby Hook, a Pilot Whale mother we have known for many years, she is also one of our sponsored animals. She was surrounded by a family of seven other females and two calves. Soon a school of Bottlenose Dolphins joined them and on the other side of the boat we discovered a second family of Pilot Whales. Here Sonja and Oliver swam and later we discovered even more sponsored animals. There were so many that I almost could not keep up with writing down all the details for the data collection. On this first trip we saw a total of 38 Pilot Whales and 33 Bottlenose Dolphins!

There have certainly not been fewer. The many months with much less shipping traffic have been good for the whales and dolphins. A few weeks ago, friends from Tarifa sent me videos of Bottlenose Dolphins swimming curiously in the harbour of Tarifa. They seem to be getting closer to the land, because there have been no fast ferries from Tarifa to Tangier for 1 ½ years. First it was Corona that closed the borders, but now there seem to be more political reasons why the Moroccans are keeping the borders to Spain shut. Probably until at least autumn. We at firmm and probably the whales and dolphins have no objections!

The Moroccans keep a very close eye on all the shipping traffic, a helicopter inspected us from above. Spanish fishermen are no longer allowed to fish in the usual places, for example, the place where the Orcas grab the tuna from the fishermen's rods is forbidden for Spanish fishermen. We are curious whether they will still let us cruise there because we are expecting the Orcas soon. It therefore will remain exciting!

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