Talking to my 12 year old granddaughter this morning on the phone she asked when she could next come to visit as she had a few things on her To Do List which she was quite keen to tick off. One of the things she asked was to go whale watching. She has been twice, the first time when she was 6 years old and realistically far too young and easily bored. The second time she was 11 years old and totally captivated, just like her grand-parents.
The first time OH and I went whale watching was in New England in the mid 80s. To say we were enthralled is an understatement. I remember waking up during the night, digging OH and saying it was so remarkable. On that occasion a baby sperm whale swam beneath the bow of our boat, it was so close we could touch it and with one eye above the water, it was watching us watching her. Since then we went again in California then again from Provincetown in Cape Cod. That trip was a little scary because the sea was rough and as we boarded the boat, we were given the chance to leave or be handed a couple of sea-sickness tablets. We took the tablets and although the journey was cold, wet and bumpy we still had a good time and saw several humpback whales. Little did we know when we took that first trip that years later we would be living on the southern coast of Tenerife that is a privileged place for watching whales and dolphins in their natural habitat.
For various reasons including the good climate and quality of crystal-clear waters the area has created a paradise and ideal setting for pilot whales and dolphins who have settled off the coast and have become permanent residents. Because they live so close to the coast, Tenerife has become the top European destination in terms of the number of people that have seen whales in the wild. These fascinating creatures attract half a million visitors every year. 21 different species can be found living in or passing through the waters surrounding Tenerife, from the colossal blue whale to the feared Orca, the largest predator in the marine environment that has been sighted on a few occasions, following schools of tuna on their migration routes.
Whales and dolphins are more like humans than fish, despite living in the sea. Just like us, they are warm-blooded and breathe oxygen through their lungs, meaning they have to reach the surface for air, which consequently allows visitors to see them in their natural habitat.
There are trips tailor-made to suit everyone and every tour is different. Many companies offer a range of prices and times: Trips up to five hours on large boats that stop by the shore for a swim and lunch on board. Trips of 2 to 3 hours on medium-sized boats or trips up to 2 hours on small, fast boats, designed for the sole purpose of whale watching. Whichever you choose there are strict controls. These creatures are carefully protected to ensure there is not too much intrusion into their world.
Below is a list of companies that are members of the Quality Tourism Services that combine respect for these creatures with an enjoyable experience for visitors.
Eden Catamaran Vessel: Eden Catamarán Web: www.edencatamaran.com
Neptuno Sea Company Vessel: Shogun II Web: www.barcostenerife.com
Tenerife Dolphin Vessel: Royal Delfin Web: www.tenerifedolphin.com
Teserca Yacht Vessel: Kosamui Web: www.maxifunsailing.com
Whaleadventure Vessel: Xixarron Web: http://www.whale-adventure.com/
Maritima Acantilados Vessel: Nashira Uno and Gladiator Web: www.losgigantes.com/nashira.htm
You will never see the same thing no matter how many whale-watching trips you take The behaviour varies from one species to another and also depends on the moment, the day, the conditions of the sea, available food, etc. factors that are beyond the spectators’ control, yet it is a memorable experience that shouldn’t be missed.