31 May 2010

Cetacean Sanctuary Research 2 (24-30 May)

The second week on board of Pelagos has gone and the best words to describe it, without being redundant and sounding "cheesy", are "WHALES, WHALES, WHALES". Despite a day and a half spent in the harbour due to strong wind, the moral was never low. Once out at sea striped dolphins were swimming with us every day, bow-riding and jumping the whole time, cheering up the crew as usual, no matters how many times you see them. Then it came a sperm whale, surfacing among big waves and strong wind that made the whole sight more spectacular. But the best had still to come. In fact, with our big excitement a fin whale was finally spotted. Then, the biggest surprise: that whale was not alone. Two, three, four, five whales gently showing up at the surface with their unique and unmistakable blow. We could not believe our eyes and contain our joy. The whales, surrounded by striped dolphins that also seemed to have fun chasing their travel companions, were blowing right next to our boat and swam along with us with their great elegance for the next two days. Last but not least, what to say about a fin whale breaching not far from the boat while getting ready for a refreshing and relaxing swim? Just speechless. At the end of this unbelievable week, tired but totally happy, there was just one last thing to do: grab a glass of wine and celebrate.

Cristina, Monica, Vittorio and Nino (CSR Team members)


We had a fantastic week with an exceptionally cheerful, helpful and knowledgeable crew, (fantastic cooks), and the most wonderful group. Well, no wonder, we were very lucky and saw an amazing number of 11 (e-l-e-v-e-n) fin whales, one sperm whale, 623 Mola mola and 12347 Velella velella. Oh, yes, and dolphins of course. In other words, it was great and lots of fun.

Sylvia (Austria)


I'm very impressed! I can' t describe my feelings. Thanks a lot to the crew, who made it possible for me! Thanks also to the wonderful group.

Brigitte (Germany)


Thanks very much for a fantastic week! The researchers were all really knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and it was a great group. We were very lucky to see so many dolphins and whales (eleven fin whales and a sperm whale) up close in the wild, and it was really interesting to see how this research project works. All in all it was a great opportunity to do something different, learn new things and meet lots of new people.

Lizzie (UK)


After seeing some of the most spectacular whale watching in Maui, I wasn't quite sure what to expect in the Ligurian Sea: as it turns out, this was sincerely the most extravagant experience in both whale and dolphin viewing, imaginable. We saw upwards of ten fin whales under various close conditions and pods of dolphins virtually too numerous to count. The boat itself is spacious enough for the 14 people we had on board and the food was great. It was a nice bonding experience; solitary time is also very possible-our journal pens are still burning as I write this! Thank you team Pelagos and the Tethys Team for making this trip possible! To my surprise there is quite a sea life in the Mediterranean which needs cared for.

Riki (Austria)


Well, I have to say this has been the best school project ever, better yet, best trip ever. All the natural beauty that surrounded us everyday was breath-taking. With the massive amounts of whale watching (and living to tell about it), experiencing dolphins in their natural habitat and witnessing wonderful sun rises and sun sets, it is impossible to compare all of this to anything I have done. So thank you to the entire crew who lead an amazing journey and made wonderful memories. I have learned so much and am ready to share my stories.

Stephanie (USA)


You never know what to expect when you approach nature. Honestly I had a lot of expectations. And indeed I've had a wonderful time. It really seemed to be a perfect film script: we started with some tuna and Velella velella which are already amazing in themselves, followed by one of the strangest animals I've ever seen - the lurching Mola mola (encounter Mola mola ;)). After this more or less exciting barefoot experience I couldn't wait to "encounter" the whales. Like before we started small: with a lot of fantasy we spotted some dolphins at the horizon line. On the following day it begun to get interesting: suddenly there were clicks produced by two sperm whales. One of them got up really close to the boat - really incredible! A friend of mine used to say that life's great memories are made of small moments. And we've had a lot of them! The most particular one was the group of fin whales swimming next to our boat. You could even hear them breathe... It's impossible to describe the impression that such a moment left, because it was something new, something I still have to understand. And this is how the story ends - the big expectations revealed new confusing mysteries to be discovered...

Valerie (Germany)


The descriptions above tell it all. A Velella velella thrilled me, so of course the whales, particularly the sperm whale encounter, delighted every particle of my being. I was also astounded by the food that came out of the smallest galley. Homemade bread, calzone, focaccia, oh my. Capt. Paolo multitasking...Captain Cook as well. Cristina and Monica kept bringing out wonders on the plate...and yes more whales, a school of dolphins bow riding as I am also sitting in the bow seat. It may not be pretty, but I treasure the photo of my feet with 3 dolphins below them. To know and love something of nature through these encounters that Tethys makes possible will hopefully lead to more people caring and working to save their precious environment. I hope your crew has many more champagne toasts to great days on the water and data collecting!

Susie (USA)

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