We are back!
by firmm Team
Text: Brigitte according notes from Katharina, photos: firmm
April 01st: Start of the season with three trips. The highlights of the day were a particularly active group of about 20 Bottlenose Dolphins, whom we could observe performing countless jumps, two Sperm Whales, both spotted during two trips already on the way back, and a huge mixed group of about 120 animals consisting of Pilot Whales and Bottlenose Dolphins.
The first sighted adoption animals of the season were the Pilot Whales Baby Hook, Sierra, Sonja, Pedro, Rikki, Oliver and Franzfin, whose family also included a baby Pilot Whale, our Baby Toni of the season. The vertical birth stripes were still clearly visible. The little one swam close to its mother. It's always nice to see healthy newborns after the winter break. Among the Bottlenose Dolphins was dolphin lady Lolly. In the more than 10 years we have known her, she has already given birth three times. She is easily recognisable by the fungus on her dorsal fin.
April 02nd + 03rd: We saw a group of fast leaping Common Dolphins, whom we were able to accompany for a while. Bottlenose Dolphins were jumping in front of a container ship. They are often seen in the big waves in front of ships. In what is known as "bowriding", they save energy because they can "travel" for kilometres by being "pushed".
The sighted adoption animals were: Sonja, Sierra, Rikki, Pedro, Nina, Oli, Gorro and Vicenta together with her young.
Unfortunately, we also saw two Pilot Whales that had been chipped. On one of them you could still see the chip in the dorsal fin. On the other one it had already fallen off, but you could still make out the lighter spot where it had been attached. We also discovered a Pilot Whale with a large, long scratch on its head.
From April 04th to 08th, the wind blew so hard that it was impossible to make any trips.
April 09th and 10th: Pilot Whales, Bottlenose Dolphins, Striped Dolphins, and a Sperm Whale were the protagonists of these two days.
Adoption animals: In a group of Bottlenose Dolphins, Puzzle attracted attention. We also saw Lolly again. The Pilot Whales sighted were Rikki, Vicenta, Pedro, Sierra, Sonja, Nina, Gorro and Franzfin.
The crew on board had a veritable competition to see who would spot the next Sperm Whale. We had a total of six sightings of the giants on this day. When they are diving down, you can easily see the differently shaped tail flukes by which the animals can be recognised.
On April 12th, there was only one trip due to the rising wind. A Sperm Whale was sighted and also Pilot Whales, including Vicenta.
Our marinero David saw a very high blow on April 13th in high waves and with strong poniente quite far away. This time, however, it was a different giant: a Fin Whale, which can expel its breath up to 5 metres high. It was a mother with a calf, moving leisurely eastwards, towards the Mediterranean. Which is unusual, because normally at this time of year the animals move towards the Atlantic. We were able to observe them very well, as the small Fin Whale cannot stay under water for so long yet, and so they both came to the surface more often than usual to breathe in. As we had followed them very far east, we had an unusually long way back against the high waves. Just outside Tarifa, we were surprised by a large flock of about 30-40 flamingos flying towards the Atlantic. Their beautiful pink colouring provided an unusual sighting.
April 14th brought us Pilot Whales surfing in the big waves (Hileros) and a Sperm Whale on the first trip. Bottlenose Dolphins were seen on the second trip and then on the third tour a Sperm Whale approached the boat, most probably our adoption animal Observador. He turned and swam very slowly towards us. The crew and passengers were almost breathless when the colossus finally dived close to the boat and stretched its huge tail fluke into the air.
The adoption animals of the day were Gorro, Sonja and Baby Leila, the first Bottlenose Dolphin baby of the season.
A large mixed group of 60 Striped and 40 Common Dolphins accompanied our boat on April 15th, much to the delight of the many children on board. The animals were very close to us, and many young could be spotted amongst them. There is something very special about watching the little dolphins awkwardly trying to follow their mothers. Simply adorable. That morning we also saw a large Pilot Whale family, Bottlenose Dolphins and, to top it all off, a Sperm Whale that could be watched for quite a while. Five species of marine mammals in two hours. What a successful trip.
The film crew immediately had two Fin Whales in front of their camera lens, what a lucky coincidence. Our captain Antonio had spotted the mother and her calf right in front of our boat. They were heading towards the Atlantic. In the meantime, the swell had increased considerably, and we had to cross the notorious Hileros to get back to calmer waters. Pia and her film crew joined Katharina on the fly deck. This gave them a good view of the huge school of 40 Pilot Whales swimming near the boat, rolling and "spyhopping". Katharina answered many questions in front of the camera.
A successful day came to an end with the third trip, where we were surprised by an active group of Bottlenose Dolphins that performed many jumps.
Salto, Rikki, Vicenta, Sierra and Fernando were among the adoption animals.