Until next year-the perfect farewell tour
by firmm Team
Text: Christine Schmid
Fotos: Katharina Heyer, Jörn Selling, Sebastian Kanzler und Eduardo Montano Peralta
On the 04th of November from the early morning on, great hustle and bustle broke out in our office in the port: After a very long break caused by Levante, the last tours for the season were scheduled.
All guests, who waited already for days for a possibility to see the whales and dolphins, were finally able to join an excursion. For the last tours the good, old firmm-Spirit would be once again used. Already on the first three tours, all guests and volunteers came back with positive feedbacks, the sea was smooth as glass and many dolphins were around.
Now, of course everybody, volunteers as well as employees, wanted to participate in the last tour of the year. Spontaneously Nina and Oli organized biscuits, and Luisa brought a cake for our pick-nick on board. Finally at around 4.30 pm the Spirit entered the port, the previous guests got out, and all together we entered the boat with the other passengers.
Although it was a cloudy day, or perhaps exactly for that reason, the atmosphere was very beautiful and quiet. Already after a short time we found the first Bottlenose Dolphins, first far away. But soon they approached the boat curiously and began to dive underneath the vessel.
Even White Cap, one of our animals available for adoption, was among them. All the guests were enthusiastic and were astonished to see with which smoothness the animals moved above and underneath the water.
In the bow you even could observe them tail slapping. The announcement “Hold on – we are going to drive very fast now “took us totally by surprise, as this was the typical announcement when Katharina had spotted the blow of a Sperm Whale. We all were super-excited, so much luck we hadn’t expected.
When we also saw the blow, we realized with horror that the Sperm Whale was lying exactly in the shipping lane of a big freighter. We had to keep distance, and couldn’t do anything as the big cargo ship headed straight for the whale. We hold our breath, the freighter blocked our view, and we just hoped that the animal had been able to descend in time. We didn’t really expect to see this one again. But when the freighter had passed by, we saw the animal reappear unharmed after only a few minutes, and to our great joy and relief we were able to observe it well until it dived down slowly and elegantly, not without showing all the guests its impressive fluke.
Silence reigned on board; all were really excited because of the beautiful experience. Slowly our captain continued, when suddenly out of nowhere a second Sperm Whale appeared, very close to the boat. Also this sighting came totally unexpected and delighted us all. It almost seemed that the Sperm Whales knew that this was our last tour of the season, and so they came to say goodbye. We observed the whale breathing on the surface for several minutes, where he was drifting like a tree log, just until he had enough oxygen for his next dive. And then he dived down.
We still couldn’t believe our luck, when once again Katharina’s voice sounded through the loud speakers: “Jumping fish!”
All around the boat we saw huge swarms of (supposedly) sardines, which jumped quickly and far out of the water. They were chased by some young tuna fish, which also made enormous leaps. It was an incredible spectacle, even though this time it was not about marine mammals, but about fish. Soon several seagulls joined and attacked the poor sardines from the air, while these still were besotted from all sides in the water by the tuna. Further away we could also see the fins of some dolphins, which lied in wait for the fish.
They jumped as well as they could, but didn’t really have a chance to escape. The shoals grew smaller and smaller, everybody wanted to participate in the banquet. We admired this spectacle that even for us was something really special, some of us felt with the sardines, which were exposed to extreme stress. And once again there was the shout „Sperm Whale”, this time from the mouth of our volunteer Regine, who was standing in the stern of the boat. This already was the third on this incomparable last tour of the year.
This has been a beautiful and reassuring finish, after the wild chase of the tuna, to see the Sperm Whale leisurely diving down. Soon after we headed back to Tarifa, on the way now and then some dolphin flippers waved at us. Just before sunset we docked once more on the landing stage and got off happily. That was THE perfect last tour, we couldn’t have wished for more. Now we can go satisfied in the winter break, and look forward to seeing the whales and dolphins in the Strait of Gibraltar again next spring.
We hope to then welcome you all again. Many thanks once again to all our wonderful guests, who have accompanied us this year once again on many exciting excursions.