Our European Adventure travel blog


Lots of shrieking from the audience

So much fun

Thursday, September 17th

I had the most amazing experience today. We had booked a 2 hour whale watching trip aboard a research ship for today. Unfortunately Bill woke with an upset stomach and one of those painless tunnel vision headaches.

He put me in a taxi at 10 and then he laid down.

The organization “firmm”. www.firmm.org

It was established in Switzerland in 1998 by Katharina Heyer a Swiss who visited the Straits in 1997 and couldn’t believe there wasn’t an organization doing research on the many whales and dolphins who seemed to live in the area. At present their focus is in the Strait of Gibraltar, where they are represented by firmm Espana.

One of their main goals is to sensitize as many people as possible to the state of our oceans and their inhabitants.

Their findings are regularly presented at International Marine Biology Congresses.

There was a very informative lecture describing the Straits of Gibraltar and why the whales and dolphins call it home despite the noise coming from the over 300 cargo vessels passing through daily. There is so much to learn out there.

For example did you know?

Most of the Tuna caught today is done by huge nets where they gather whatever is in the water. The catch is picked over for the tuna and the rest, dead (most of it Dolphins) by this time is discarded. So- buy only dolphin friendly Tuna or line caught tuna, usually marked on the label.

Also, 100 dolphins (bottlenose variety) have to be caught to find 5 to perform in our aquariums around the world.

Anyway, I was so enthralled with this area and the research team of firmm – foundation for information and research on marine mammals that Bill and I adopted a Pilot Whale by the name of Baby Hook. His dorsal fin was damaged by probably a fishing line or net so it is deformed. Did you know that dorsal fin shapes are individual like fingerprints-one of a kind?

We will receive monthly newsletters informing us what Baby Hook is doing over the next year.

He isn’t even a Whale but a very large dolphin and I saw him today.

First why do they stay? Answer – is availability of food. At the sill of the Strait, the nutrient–rich upward current from the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea mixes with the water flowing in from the Atlantic providing optimal feeding conditions which attracts both whales and dolphins. Sort of like a gourmet feast!

It was an incredible two hours traveling up and down the Straits. Most of the sightings were on the Moroccan side. First we came upon a pod of about 200 dolphins a mix of the common (with spectacular jumping and acrobatic skills) and the striped (who when in captivity refuses to be trained – pretty smart).

The boat was stopped and they came to us; swimming under the boat and performing their acrobatic skills. Many of the females had young ones swimming under their shoulder. Soon they became bored with us and moved on.

About 10 minutes later we came upon a school of around 100 pilot whales many of them also had young with them.

It was fun to see 50 adults squealing with delight at the sights before them. Smiles were on every face, we must have produced a very intense positive energy field around us. It was great to be a part of it.

I shared this journey with a great retired couple Mike and Marie from the Dorset area of the UK and Anna, born in Poland but raised and working in Dusseldorf and working for a Canadian Crown Corporation-Economic Development Corporation. She was visiting Tarifa to learn sail boarding and this was her first whale watching trip. I am sure Bill and her would have much to chat about because he has dealt with the corporation many times during his working years.

Marie has a brother who is a stage actor and he travels back and forth between LA and London, so we might see them in the future – who knows. Anna travels the world with her work so we might run into her again too. We traded contact information and parted best of friends.

The rest of the day was spent on housekeeping and packing. We are off to Africa tomorrow by ferry – Tangiers, Morocco, for a 2 night 3 day touring package. Pinch me again!!!

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