Why do dolphins travel with whales
In these places in Europe you can see whales and dolphins
To see a whale once in a lifetime is the dream of many people and really something very special. Dolphins are smaller, but no less popular. We were once accompanied by around 50 dolphins on a boat trip in South Africa and we have to say that it was a really unforgettable experience. Canada and Hawaii are also good spots to see the animals live.
But you don't have to travel that far to observe these animals (with a bit of luck), because there are more hotspots for whale and dolphin sightings in Europe than you might think at first glance.
We introduce you to six places in Europe where you can watch whales and dolphins. You have probably already come to some places yourself, at others you don't necessarily expect whales and dolphins.
1. Iceland and the capital of whale watching
Whale watching in Iceland is our number 1 when it comes to seeing and spotting whales in Europe. No wonder, as Husavik, a village with a population of 2,000, in northeast Iceland is even called Europe's whale watching capital. The whale museum in Husavik gives a first glimpse into the world of whales.
The sighting rate on tours from Husavik in the months from April to October is between 98 and 99%, about half of all whale watching tours start from there. Not without reason: The variety of sea giants is said to be particularly large in the waters, minke whales, white-beaked dolphins, boar, porpoise and humpback whales and various types of dolphins swim in front of the camera in the truest sense of the word. With a lot of luck you might even see a blue whale!
If you don't want to travel to Husavik for your tour, you can also book trips to other regions of the island.
2. The Canaries
Most people still know that there are whales in Iceland. But perhaps not so many people know that you can also watch whales off the Canary Islands. Tenerife and La Gomera are ideally suited to go on whale watching tours from here. Around 28 whale and dolphin species are native to the waters and can therefore be seen all year round. Sperm whales, pilot whales and pilot whales are just three of the possible specimens that can be encountered here.
The sighting rate is between 80 and 90%. Not nearly as high as in Iceland, but you can easily combine such a trip to the sea with a vacation in the warm.
3. The Azores
The Azores are located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean - one reason why an incredible variety of marine animals pass by from May to October year after year. With a little luck, sperm whales, pilot whales, duck whales, beaked whales, but also giants such as fin whales and even blue whales can be observed here. And from various vantage points on land, which were once set up especially for whale hunting, you can see the animals on a clear day with simple binoculars or even with the naked eye. Then you have a view of up to 30 kilometers due to the excellent air conditions. Of course, boat tours are also offered here. Then the sighting rate is up to 98%.
Did you know that there is a whale sanctuary on Sylt? No? Then it's time to get to know the region. Around 6,000 porpoises live off the west coast of Sylt, and they can be up to 2 meters long and weigh 80 kilograms. Visually, they are very similar to dolphins.
On Sylt you don't need a boat for an observation tour, because the porpoises can often be seen from land. And you wouldn't be the first swimmer to swim across the path of a porpoise while splashing in the waves. Don't panic - the dorsal fin of the porpoise is definitely reminiscent of a shark fin. However, you also have the opportunity to take part in a tour of the whale sanctuary.
You can also watch whales and dolphins in Mallorca. 21 species of whales and dolphins can be found in the waters around the Balearic Island. Boats go whale watching all year round. The different types of dolphins around the island in particular love to watch the ships and get a little closer to the excursion boats.
About 300 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle are the Vesteralen, a group of islands north of the Lofoten, near which you can watch whales in the midnight sun. Orcas, sperm whales, porpoises, pilot whales and minke whales can be found on the Vesteralen. The seabed drops steeply up to 1,000 meters just before the archipelago.
Anyone who is on site from May 23rd to July 23rd can go on a whale watching tour around the clock. Because in this time window the magical midnight sun shines here. A sighting rate of 95% also ensures a certain certainty that you will actually see whales up here.
Is whale watching cruelty to animals?
This question is a sensitive one. A lot of animal rights activists categorically reject whale watching tours on the grounds that the animals would be exposed to too much stress. In fact, when the captains of tourist boats hunt the animals to give their guests the best photos, whales and dolphins are exposed to great stress. If many boats are on the water at the same time, there is also an insignificant noise nuisance for the animals. But is whale watching generally to be condemned?
We think: "No". The WWF, for example, says that whale watching, when carried out by reputable organizers, does more good than harm to the animals. Because such close-to-nature experiences make people more sensitive to nature. For many, topics such as species protection etc. come more into focus once they have had such an experience as a whale sighting. In addition, in countries like Iceland, for example, people are still thinking every year about reopening the hunt for whales on a large scale. Especially the tourism branch of whale watching is something like a kind of lived animal protection - shooting down such a source of income would be against the interests of an ever-growing branch of industry.
However, there are a few rules to be followed when whale watching. Above all, when choosing the organizer, you should make sure that he adheres to the rules for gentle whale watching. This means that the boats keep a distance from the animals, only steer towards the animals at the right angle, do not start chases, but let the whales and dolphins swim away when they do not want to be observed. You often notice whether you have a reputable supplier in front of you when you talk to the employees at the point of sale and get more information about the animals that can be observed here. The better the employees are informed, both about the animal species present and about the necessary protective measures for the animals on a tour, the greater the probability that you have an organizer who cares about the welfare of the animals in addition to his sales figures.
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