The season 2020 has ended

The summer holidays are over and Tarifa's streets have been empty since the beginning of September. We have therefore also closed down for this year.

Despite the short season we had many special sightings. We hope that the situation will become normal by the next season and can't wait to take you out to see the whales again from the 26th of March 2021 on.

See you soon in Tarifa, Katharina Heyer and the firmm team

Report on other sightings

Every year we occasionally observe sea turtles (Caretta caretta), tunas (Thunnus thinnus), swordfishes (Xiphias gladius) and various migratory and sea birds. Other special encounters and experiences are listed below

Keydata from annual reports

2005

In the Bay of Gibraltar Sperm Whales have been spotted for the first -, Pilot Whales for the second - and Bottlenose Dolphins for the third time.

According to the Sea Rescue Service in the Bay of Gibraltar Rissso´s Dolphins (Grampus griseus) have been sighted - does it point to migration of this species through the Strait?.

2006

On August 09th a Hooded Seal (Cystophora cristata) was spotted in the Bay Gibraltar. These seals are very rare in the Mediterranean Sea and belong to an Arctic population, probably from the Norwegian island Jan Mayen (northeast of Iceland)

2007

Two rare sightings of Minke Whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) in September and October.
(They have been sighted only five times in the last ten years, whereas sightings 6 and 7 happened in a period of only 4 weeks.)

2008

Two Cuvier Beaked Whales have stranded dead next to the port of Tarifa.

Orcas' chases through Pilot Whales have been more frequent, possibly a sign of increasing competition for food, which seems to break out also elsewhere among different whale species due to overfishing of the world's oceans.

2009

Sighting of a Minke Whale accompanied by Bottlenose Dolphins.

The spectacular chasings of Orcas by Pilot Whales could not be observed, since the former did stay more westerly off "Cabo Espartel" according to fishermen.

2013

In the Bay of Gibraltar, we saw for the first time tuna fish hunting flying fish in collaboration with Common Dolphins. This is probably the reason why the Orcas stay in the Strait of Gibraltar until the end of November: They are attracted by the smaller tunas, which migrate later than the larger ones.

2015

In the Strait of Gibraltar we could observe smaller tunas again, which followed pods of Striped Dolphins. Whether under them in bigger depth full-grown tunas followed (as with Bottlenose Dolphins and yellowfin tunas in the Pacific), remains a widespread supposition among big game fishermen. They use the argument to drive through the whales in front of Tarifa with their extended lines, injuring Bottlenose -, Common - and Striped Dolphins, as well as Pilot Whales. At least two Pilot Whales have lost their lives that way.

2016

Sighting of a young Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae). To date, only one Humpback Whale cow and her calf had made it to the Strait of Gibraltar in August 2010.

A Minke Whale was sighted in June and September. They are hard to spot but it can be assumed that every season some of them migrate through the Strait of Gibraltar.

Again we could observe smaller tunas following pods of Striped Dolphins. Big game fishermen continue to assume that adult tunas follow in greater depths and drive ruthlessly through the whales. As our photo material suggests, this is the reason for many injuries among dolphins of the Strait.

For the second time since 2015, a small dolphin was found slit lengthwise on its belly, in this case the species could not be identified .

2017

Occasional observation of

  • Sea turtles (Caretta caretta)
  • Tuna (Thunnus thinnus)
  • Swordfish (Xiphias gladius)
  • Migratory and sea birds

The otherwise regularly but sporadically sighted Minke Whales were not detected. They are hard to spot and one can assume that every year some of them cross the Strait of Gibraltar.

We could observe smaller tunas again, which followed pods of Striped Dolphins. Also big game fishermen were present again in large numbers, most of them between June 21st (80) and June 26th (100).

2018

Observation of

  • Sea turtles (Caretta caretta)
  • Tuna (Thunnus thinnus)
  • Migratory and sea birds
  • 3 Minke Whales
  • 1 Humpback Whale (sighted by guests off Trafalgar)

We could again observe hunting tunas, sometimes accompanied by Striped Dolphins.

Big game fishermen were present again in large numbers - most of them between June 21st and 25th. From our ship 40-60 sport boats were counted. From the highest vantage point on the highway, which overlooks the entire Strait of Gibraltar, up to 117(!) recreational craft were registered.

2019

Occasional observations:

  • Sea turtles (Caretta caretta) - 6 sightings (June 19th to October 09th)
  • Hunting tuna (Thunnus thinnus), that jumped out of the water (July 30th, September 22nd and 27th)
  • Migratory and marine birds
  • 1 Minke Whale on its way east (June 23rd)

From the 3rd of June to the 26th of August there were once again sport tuna fishermen present, most of them between the 3rd and the 24th of June, counting a maximum of 30 sport boats from the boat and up to 87 (2018 up to 117) from the highest lookout point on the Strait of Gibraltar, from which the entire Strait of Gibraltar can be seen! All sports fishermen who went fishing for tuna after the 24th of June did so illegally, as the quota was already exhausted.

For firmm reports sorted by years (in German) check out firmm-education.