Getting high

4 05 2012

“No mercy, no power but its own controls it. Panting and snorting like a mad battle steed that has lost its rider, the masterless ocean overruns the globe.”

Moby Dick, Hermann Melville –

Another day at la Gomera with the typical stuff. Both Laurel and Bolle’s pigeon and the rest of forest species extremely abundant in the island. From the outward ferry, we saw the first Bulwer’s petrels of the year. At least 5 birds flew westwards, always accompanied with hundreds of Cory’s. The cetaceans seemed even shyer than usual, and we only managed to see Short-fined pilot whales and a too brief party of Atlantic spotted dolphins. Already in the ferry, waiting for the departure to Tenerife again, I looked at the city of San Sebastián de la Gomera and tried to count how many colours are there. The multiple styles in which people paints their houses conforms a single style and I must admit it’s nice to see…

Anyway, the highlight of the day was in the way back to Tenerife. It started as always except for 2 distant Bulwer’s. This species must be common from now on but is still hard to see from the land. A woman that seemed to have fun just by looking at us scanning the sea suddenly noticed a strange foam just by the boat, something about 20 meters from starboard. We saw a strange shape under the water that had to be a whale and, earlier than we could had concluded that, the animal emerged to breathe. The spectacle of a whale breathing increases exponentially as the distance decreases and this one couldn’t be closer.

I felt the need to take pictures of the head pattern and try to identify it. That was not a hard task actually! My happyness was at his maximum when I saw it was a Bryde’s whale Balaenoptera edeni, with their typical 3 rostrum ridges, dark colouration above and an erect and sickle-shaped dorsal fin. It’s not a rare species here in the Canaries, but still a lifer for me.

When I lived in Barcelona and I looked at the sea, I could only expect some Pomarine (just in the right season!), parasitic and great skuas, some Mediterranean (European) storm-petrels, Cory’s, Mediterranean and Balearic shearwaters. Cetaceans are rare enough to don’t even think about them. Here, pilot whales, dolphins and larger whales are in my daily agenda. Let’s enjoy it!

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