The season 2011 – a short retrospect

by firmm Team

As this year, especially post-season during September and October, there were a lot of days with Levante, so we had to move most of our trips to Algeciras, in the bay which is protected from the wind which blows through Gibraltar.

Surprisingly, we had very nice sightings there. Among the highlights of this seasons were with no doubt the flying fish which had the choice between ending in the stomach of a dolphin or a bird. We were lucky to experience the incredible spectacle several times, and how the fish, first flying close to the surface of the water, suddenly flew up about 40 meters while being hunted from below by Common Dolphins and from above by shearwaters.

Fliegender Fisch
Flying fish

Gelbschnabel-Sturmtaucher schnappt nach einem fliegenden Fisch
Flying fish having the “choice”

In addition, we had a unique sighting of about 50 Bottlenose dolphins in the Bay of Algeciras. Apart from the one Bottlenose Dolphin which was adopted a few years ago by Common Dolphins, there are usually hardly any sightings of Bottlenose Dolphins in the bay.

Große Tümmler in der Bucht von Algeciras
Bottlenose Dolphins in the Bay of Algeciras

Certainly the greatest surprise of the season happened on the 4th of October – orcas sighted in the Bay of Algeciras! During the 14 years of firmm´s existence, this is only the second time that orcas had been sighted in the Bay of Algeciras!

After having a precise look and comparing the pictures, we found out that it was another orca family than the one we could observe in the Strait of Gibraltar during the season.

Orcas in der Bucht von Algeciras
Orcas in the Bay of Algeciras!

During the last months we were visited and accompanied by different camera crews. 

Paul Bieri mit Kameramann Viktor Schwab
Paul Bieri with cameraman Viktor Schwab

Kamerateam von ARTE
Camera crew of ARTE

Kamerateam von Mare TV
Camera crew of Mare TV

Tele 1, Nicole Birri und Andrea Brun
Tele 1, Nicole Birri and Andrea Brun

During about two weeks we had the opportunity to give lectures in front of more than 1000 school children in the big shopping mall „El Corte Inglés“ in Algeciras. In this context there was a drawing competition and the winners were invited on our boat.

Charla von Dominique
Briefing of Dominique

Gewinner des Zeichnungswettbewerbs
The happy winners of the drawing competition

Commons Dolphins

Surprisingly a lot of sightings of big pod of Common Dolphins in the Bay of Algeciras.

Gewöhnlicher Delfin
Common Dolphin

Gewöhnlicher Delfin im Sprung
Jumping Common Dolphins

Striped Dolphins

Particularly in the second part of the season we could see them very often in the Strait of Gibraltar. Especially the sighting of the 30th of October when we met them playing together with the Pilot Whales.

Vertraute Gestreifte Delfine
Intimate Striped Dolphins

Gestreifter Delfin
Striped Dolphin

Bottlenose Dolphins

The Bottlenose Dolphins often were very playful and curious this year. Many times they were giving us real shows by jumping in the air, doing summersaults, spyhopping and much more.

Große Tümmler spielen
Bottlenose Dolphins playing

Große Tümmler spielen
Bottlenose Dolphins playing

Pilot Whales

Our problem child of the Strait of Gibraltar, Curro, stays valiant. His wound being healed quite nicely first was ripped again. Thereby big parts of chair were hanging on his sides. His faithful companion, Edu, banged him with his fluke one day precisely on the wound and the parts of chair had gone. (See detailed blog: Curro - Problem child of the Strait of Gibraltar).

We had many very nice sightings with playing, curious, even nearly trusting Pilot Whales.

Pilot Whales

Kleiner Grindwal
Small Pilot Whale


The orca’s season was lasting as long as never this year. We could observe them continuously from the 30th of July until the 23th of October. Four calves, among them a new born, were with them in the Strait of Gibraltar this year.

On the 23th of October an orca lady – intimately - came to the boat and romped for a while.

Orca mit Kalb
Orca with calf

New born

Orca Familie
Orca family

Orca beim Spielen
Playing Orcas

Orca beim Spielen
Playing Orcas

Sperm Whales

Unfortunately, during spring we could only see Sperm Whales three times. This heavy decline of Sperm Whale sightings in the Strait of Gibraltar is probably due to the biggest African deep sea port, Tanger Med. The increasing traffic of ships and boats and the so caused underwater noise in this region have widely chased away the Sperm Whales.

The highlight of the season is with no doubt the sighting of Mondrino/Pigmento with her two calves (See detailed blog: Maternal instinct)



Fin Whales

This season we had 25 sightings of Fin Whales.

The probably most special sighting was during the high season. In the middle of the fishermen and very near of the orcas, a giant searches his way through the tangle of lines.

At the end of the season, on the 1th of November, we accompanied the Fin Whales during more than one hour.

Fin Whale

Finnwale zum Saisonabschluss
Fin Whales at the end of the season

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