Dolphin Watching in Los Gigantes

Wed, April 6th, 2011 - By Andrea Montgomery

It was a rare event – a cloudy day in Los Gigantes – as we made our way down towards the marina for our dolphin watching trip. On this stretch of coast the sun makes more appearances than anywhere else on the island and if you ever find yourself chasing the sun on Tenerife, the chances are you’ll find it here. But not today.

As we round the corner, the marina and the oak hull and folded sails of the Katrin come into view. An ex-North Sea crabber, the Katrin has been a dolphin watching vessel for over 12 years and her build means that she lies low in the water which makes for easier spotting of the dolphins. On board with us are two volunteers from the Atlantic Whale Foundation (AWF), the watchdog organisation that works with operators and local fishermen to ensure that international guidelines for whale and dolphin watching are strictly adhered to.

Tenerife is one of the most popular places on the planet to see cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises) due to the rich feeding grounds of microscopic marine life that lie in the deep, warm waters off the west coast – a cetacean ‘eat as much as you like buffet’. No less than 28 species of whales and dolphins frequent these waters on their migratory routes and it’s possible to spot minke, sperm and even killer whales if you’re lucky. With a community of bottle nosed dolphins and one of pilot whales living in the waters too, you’re almost guaranteed sightings on every trip.

We set off promptly, just 20 of us on board including the two girls from the AWF which means lots of space to pick your spot on bow watch. Behind us, the sheer cliffs that loom above the resort giving it it’s name (the giants), slip further into the distance. For a minute it looks as if we’ll leave the cloud behind and find sun out to sea, but it’s just a tease and the cloud hangs persistently.

Along with everyone else, I’m scanning the horizon for the tell tale signs of a fin, but nothing is making an appearance. The girls from AWF tell us that the dolphins are like tourists – they prefer sunny days and most of their best sightings are in full sunshine. I’m beginning to think that we’ve lucked out and will be the only people ever to have gone dolphin watching and not seen a dolphin when the cry goes out to look off the starboard bow. Not knowing where starboard is, I follow everyone else’s gaze and spot the fin slicing through the water in the middle distance like a silent hot knife through molasses.

It’s too far away and I’m squinting into the horizon when suddenly something catches my eye and I look down to see a large bottle nosed dolphin swimming right alongside the hull, its sleek silver body staying perfectly parallel to the hull. It’s the most incredible moment and more follow as the trip continues. I have rarely felt so privileged, just to be so close to these beautiful creatures in their natural environment.

Fact File
Several boats operate dolphin watching trips twice a day from Los Gigantes harbour at a cost of €20 – €25 per person for a two hour trip. Choose operators who fly the yellow barco azul flag which denotes adherence to international guidelines for whale and dolphin watching.

Posted : Wednesday, April 6th, 2011 at 1:25 pm
Category : days out
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