Passions... marine mammals & more

I remember in 6th or 7th grade, when we had to do our first short presentation in front of the classmates… my best friend picked “whales” and I picked “Antarctica” … and the war about the regulations of commercial and scientific whaling. A couple of years later we went with school to visit a dolphin show at the zoo of Nuremberg. I didn’t like it, and I never visited a show again. However, not necessarily out of protest, also a bit as there was none where I was living and it just wasn’t an attraction to me.

When I moved to Puerto Vallarta, I was shown around the Vallarta Adventures dolphin center. Certainly nice installations, yet again, I knew it’s nothing I would pay for to see, and if I could avoid it, I wouldn’t go (although I have to admit, we did include the offer for our hotel guests….).

Some weeks later I went on my first whale watching excursion in the Bay of Banderas – a truly amazing experience. Seeing a humpback whale for the first time in the open ocean, like 30 meters away, was something I will never forget. Big yet gracious, and probably one of the most interesting whale species. I the four winters I lived in Vallarta, I went out a couple of times to see them, and also had the privilege of listening to them – both on the hydrophone that the guides were using and while diving. Humpback whales are the only species that “sings”, phenomen not yet completely investigated. The “song” changes year over year a bit, but remains the same among the different pods in Hawaii and Vallarta. They might listen to each other over those immense distances.

I will also never forget Nicki, the English girl guiding the tours. Being a marine biologists she tours the world along with their favorite marine mammals. The passion she transmitted each and every time in the tours is admirable. Whale in Vallarta are a pretty common sight in the months of November to March, also from shore. Basically, one can participate in their annual soap opera in Mexico. First, they come south like the tourists for warm water and sex. Yes. The water in winter time in Vallarta is about 21C, perfect for them to mate. During this season they actually don’t feed, but lose their blubber, the layer of fat they have. The young males try to get a turn on a single non pregnant lady, the older males fight them off, the pregnant females are being protected by the granddads of the species, those males that aren’t interested in mating anymore, and fight off any other guy trying to be too romantic. The babies are born in January and are taught social behaviors like jumping, fin clapping and spyhopping. The youngsters that are a year old or so enjoy the last months with their mom until they become independent…. And the males just keep fighting and mating…. They don’t care about their kids, education is the ladies’ job.

Anyway, so I got close to them a couple of times, and I sure hope I will have the pleasure to see them again eventually somewhere. While being out on the ocean, I also saw dolphins, not just one, but huge schools of bottle nose and similar species. Playing with the sailing boat, jumping, accompanying the panga, and enjoying the wide openness of the sea. This just strengthened my dislike of water parks and attractions like the many that there are I Mexico, not even to mention the Seaworld & Co in the US.

Lastly, just to mention, everyone should at least once have watched “Le Grand Bleu” / Deep Blue and THE COVE. Yes, the latter was done by the trainer of Flipper, people at least my age will remember Flipper, and the documentary actually won an Oscar in 2010. (??)

All this being said, I know there is hundreds of environmental issues, and thousands of humanitarian ones. But personally, I really get emotional with the ocean and its mammals. No worries, I won’t try to free “killer whales” or do some other illegal stuff. But I hope what I am writing might challenge you to think, if you really need to visit a dolphin show or aquarium, or if a trip out on the ocean with a potential and not at all guaranteed chance to see some is enough, or why not a NatGeo documentary or book about them. Taking this a step further, I am also not a fan of zoos. Just my personal opinion.

For the ones who can stand it and are starting to think critical thoughts – here is some more topics and links on whales, dolphins and the ocean. - Minkywhales faeroer - Sea shepherd - The cove - Shark fin soup  

Please publish modules in offcanvas position.