What were my best once in a lifetime experiences on my journeys since I started with the blog Wildlife Travel? Andreas from Reisewut asked this question to himself and to other bloggers in his blog parade “Moments for eternity”. I’m happy to join this blog parade on my blog Wildlife Travel and write about my best travel moments so far.
However, this is not an easy question. And furthermore, not necessarily the “big events” are the most beautiful for me. Especially small and superficially rather “irrelevant” things can turn a journey into something great.
As this Wildlife Travel blog is about “wildlife” and “travel”, I will write in this blog parade about my animal encounters on my journeys. However, I will include in this blog article only one animal group, that is, whales and dolphins. Every journey to these wonderful animals was special to me, and thus, a moment for eternity.
I will include in this blog parade on Wildlife Travel only whales and dolphins, because when I started to travel in the past, my first destinations were determined by my dream and wish to see whales and dolphins in the wild. However, it should take some time until I saw my first whales and dolphins…
Short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) on Tenerife
I had my first encounters with dolphins on Tenerife, and that is, with short-finned pilot whales . The name might be a little bit confusing, but short-finned pilot whales are marine mammals of the dolphin family (Delphinidae). When I was on Tenerife I participated in two dolphin watching tours. However, I have to tell that my first tour was not the best one, and thus, neither my first encounters with dolphins. It was not because of the animals. On Tenerife it is very important to choose a good tour operator. When I was on Tenerife I was not aware of this. At first I participated in a tour where animation of tourists was more important than learning something about dolphins and observing them in the wild. We saw for a short moment a dolphin (maybe a bottlenose dolphin?). But only one. I understand, that it is not always possible for tour operators to guarantee dolphin sightings. However, I was also not surprised that the dolphin moved quickly away. Loud electronic pop music was not only tiring for me, probably as well for the dolphins. For me it was also annoying that the tour guides asked me to smile happily into the camera. Their continuous questions “How are you” in five different languages was way too much for me to bear. I felt kind of stupid with my whale and dolphin book on the boat.
Of course I was disappointed. After that I committed a very big mistake. I visited the Loro Parque with the two dolphin shows. One with the bottlenose dolphin and the other with the orcas (orcas are dolphins, too). I still regret my visit at the Loro Parque up to the present day. And until today I was surprised that so many people enjoy seeing artificial behavior of dolphins.
I was clear after that. I don’t want to see and support this again!
After that I asked around among my colleagues where I was working as an intern if there is another possibility to observe dolphins in the wild. I didn’t want to participate on one of those stupid “party boats” again. Thus, one colleague recommended me another tour company. She participated in another tour before where she could hear dolphins communicating with each other. I was looking exactly for that. However, her friend was not offering this kind of tours at that moment. Nevertheless, I tried the other tour company which my colleague recommended.
On this second boat I experienced a moment for eternity: dolphins in the wild. Wow. Unique. Wonderful. Impressing. Phenomenal. Marvelous. Great. Gorgeous… no more vocabulary come into my mind to describe this unique experience. It was so unique to me as it was the first time that I observed dolphins in their natural environment. Futhermore, the difference to the other boat tour was, that there was a biologist on board who told more about the Short-finned pilot whales of Tenerife…
Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Australia
I had my first encounters with whales during my study abroad semester in Brisbane at the University of Queensland. When I was finished with exams and homework I took my bags and travelled six weeks around Australia (I missed the West and the North of Australia). Wild animals in general were on the top of my wish list. The first place I visited after my study abroad semester was Byron Bay. In total I spent an entire week there. It might sound long for people who wish to see as much as possible. However, for me it was just perfect. That was one reason why I travelled alone. I could take my time to wait for the whales. And indeed, you need time for observing humpback whales.
Cape Byron ist the most easterly point of Australia and a great place to observe whales from land. Every day I walked up the hill to the lighthouse to wait – sometimes for hours – for the humpback whales. Sometimes they passed Cape Byron, and sometimes not (or maybe they just did not appear at the water surface).
However, I also participated on a boat tour on one day. In Byron Bay many things were different when compared to Tenerife. It was quieter and fewer tourists were around (although whales had already arrived). Furthermore, we were the only boat and this was with a small inflatable dinghy. Everything felt quite different. Similarly, however, was that it is not easy to observe whales in the wild. We searched for about two hours for the humpback whales. The skipper wanted to turn to the beach of Byron Bay again. But then… a blow! Yesssss. A humpback whale! We were so lucky. The next moments that would come were just as I had imagined before. The humpback whale was breaching and showing us its best side. This was another wow-experience for me and definitely another unique moment for eternity.
Therefore, the following photograph became my favorite picture of my whole Australian journey (although I took pictures with a digicam).
Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Slovenia
I cannot remember when I heard for the first time something about a project where people study wild dolphins in Slovenia. Dolphins in Slovenia? A question that the team of the research station Morigenos has/had to face quite often.
After my first encounters with whales and dolphins I still wished to see more of these impressive animals. However, during my biology studies it was not so easy to find something I could afford. Therefore, I was very happy that I had found Morigenos.
For me it was the first time in Slovenia and I didn’t know that there are dolphins around (even some Slovenians do not know that). The coast of Slovenia reaches not more than 50 kilometers. But Piran is a great place to observe dolphins from a boat and from land.
However, Morigenos is not a tourist company, but it offers “dolphin research courses” for people interested in dolphins. At Morigenos you definitely learn a lot about dolphins and I was not only impressed by the dolphins we saw, but also by the people that have built up this research station.
In total I was in Slovenia for ten days, but I spent one week in Piran – a very picturesque small town at the Adria. When the weather conditions did not allow us to leave Piran with the boat to search for the dolphins, we used the time to spot dolphins from land. For some people this might be boring, but I very liked it. For me it was great to be surrounded by people who enjoy searching for dolphins (and in general wild animals) with patience.
On a sunny and hot day on the boat we were very lucky. A numerous dolphin school passed our way. I cannot remember how long we spent our time with the dolphins. But definitely more than one hour. The dolphin researchers used their cameras and took picture after picture. They use these photographs for their research.
My journey to Morigenos was very special to me and I could collect another moment for eternity.
Whales and dolphins in South Africa
In South Africa I saw bottlenose dolphins and humpback whales again. However, I could even meet four new species of whales and dolphins. Those species include common dolphins and humpback dolphins among dolphins and Southern right whales and Bryde’s whales among whales.
There was not only one specific experience I can count to my moments of eternity. There were just so many. For example, when we saw hundreds of common dolphins swimming around the boat. Or when I was eight hours on a boat with a bottlenose dolphin researcher. It was also very special to see the humpback dolphins as there are not many individuals of them left.
Humpback whales were very spectacular and a highlight for me when they were jumping out of the water to splash again onto the water surface („breaching“). And Southern right whales were migrating so slowly and showing us so many views of them. Bryde’s whales are very shy animals. Thus, it was always special to me to see them.
In South Africa there was not only ONE moment for eternity. There were so many…
You can find photographs of my whale and dolphin watching tours in South Africa in two separate articles on Wildlife Travel:
My few journeys in the past were mainly focused on whales and dolphins. I want to continue like that. However, I hope to see many more of them – and especially also many other animals – in their natural environment. I will write about all these experiences here on Wildlife Travel.
Other blog articles from this blog parade are:
Ingrid von SchädelMädel
Carina und Daniel von Lost in Travel
Michelle von The Road most Traveled
Olivia von Dreambreaks
Karsten von Küstenlinie
Simone von Stuttgart City Girl
Katja von Hin-Fahren
Ina von Mit Kind im Rucksack
Ina von Genussbummler
Damian von Zeilenabstand
Melanie mit einem Gastbeitrag auf Reisewut
Melina und Sebastian von Hometravelz
Andreas von Localplayers
Gerfried von WoMo Guide
Anna von World Wide Free
Gina und Marcus von 2 on the go