To become a whale-watching guide you need to love the ocean and appreciate every minute of being out at sea, collecting memories and lessons that will further improve the way you do your job. I’ve wanted to become a marine biologist for as long as I can remember and am delighted when I get to welcome kids on board who share the same aspirations and love for the ocean that I had when I was a little girl. I also see it as my duty to further strengthen them in their desire to become a marine biologist and I honestly believe that time out on the ocean on a whale-watching tour can contribute to this, if things are done responsibly and correctly.
We had two little ocean lovers on board our afternoon trip on the Ribeira Brava today and I did my absolute best to give them the most realistic and honest pictures of marine life and our oceans. I had a lot of time to share what I wanted to share with my guests since we had to search for quite a while until we found cetaceans. Soon our spotter phoned and directed us to the waters outside Calheta to meet a group of dolphins. From afar we saw a few dorsal fins emerge and as we approached them, handful of animals suddenly dashed towards our traditional boat. Thery were Short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) and I was so happy for our guests that we managed to find these beautiful, curious creatures.
Apart from being wonderful animals to encounter, common dolphins also embody our relationship to dolphins and the oceans. Our fascination with the species dates back to ancient Greek and Roman times and are present in some of the first satires of human encounters with dolphins. They remain one of the most curious of all dolphin species but sadly also suffer the consequences of overexploitation in our oceans. I explained all this to our guests to emphasise why promoting and engaging in responsible encounters with these animals is so important.
For those of you who are interested in studying marine biology or perhaps pursuing as career in whale-watching, I strongly recommend checking out the World Cetacean Alliance’s website and courses. The WCA not only encourages responsible wildlife encounters, it also works to create marine protected areas for cetacean populations to recover.
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
14:30 Short-beaked common dolphins