I love whales and I love dolphins. I love all things cetaceans. Why? Oh, if you’ve ever seen such animals in the wild, you’ll know why. They are just incredible. So full of grace, so curious, so intelligent. And DAMN there are still too many people out there harming them and OH MY don’t even get me started. This time we will talk about whale watching and will try to stay on topic!
So I was mentioning how much I love cetaceans, and to give you an idea I got a killer whale tattooed on my back, even if I still have to see one. But this is going to happen very soon!
Also, as you know I love being on a boat and after a few months of work at the office I was really missing the feeling of being in the middle of the sea on a boat… so there came the idea: this was the perfect time to go whale watching in Genova, Italy, where I live.
In the past few years I have traveled the world but now that I moved back to Italy I am having so much fun exploring my country and now I appreciate its beauty so much more. Whale watching in Genova made me cry tears of joy…
Whalewatch Genova is the company I used for this wonderful experience. I have been following their updates for a long time, and always thought “one day, one day…” then finally that day arrived.
The first excursion was scrubbed because of bad weather – not too bad, your ticket can be used again if the excursion is cancelled for bad weather, as well as if no sightings occur on the trip. But I now suspect this never happens!
So we went out to the sea and we left the city behind our shoulders. And suddenly I felt like when I was a child again. Peeking out from within the boat, I stared at the blue sea below and the reflection of the sun in its depths. I was very excited: I knew the water conditions were perfect for sightings, as I learned that during my stay in Honduras.
The crew was constantly observing the sea around us, with powerful binoculars, while we reached for the deeper part of the Gulf of Liguria.
Suddenly the boat stopped and we were told to be silent. What was going on? What were we going to see? And where? I was anxious and excited, and I silently started crying (yes, I am like that) thinking about the creatures that were swimming just below us, waiting for something to show up, keeping my eyes on the sea. Everyone was silent. Nothing happened. The animal that was sighted by the crew, a Zyphius or “Beaked Whale”, already left the surface to breathe and was going to come back for air in half an hour or so.
As the on-board marine biologist was explaining us what just happened with the Zyphius, a large group of Stenellas started jumping around not far from us so we reached them, and they gracefully kept jumping then started following our boat, playing in the waves of the boat’s trail. I knew I should have been silent but I heard myself saying “amore!” while one of them was speeding in front of me, just below the surface.
As the Stenellas were swimming and jumping around the boat and everyone was rushing from one side of the boat to the other to get photos (which I found harder than I thought), I raised my eyes and looked back at the coastline, to the worldwide famous Acquario di Genova (Aquarium of Genova). Thinking about dolphins living in there, having to swim in tanks, while we have so many of them wild and free (and friendly) just in front of the City, doesn’t make any sense to me. What do you think? But then again, this is another story. Or maybe not…
But let’s go back to the sea. Little did I know that the two rivers of Genova, the Bisagno and the Polcevera, flow into the Ligurian Sea and form the deepest underwater canyon of the Mediterranean Sea, creating the perfect habitat for cetaceans.
The canyon broadens out for 70 kms from the coast and its walls are 50 kms away from each other. In the middle, the depth of the sea reaches 2400 meters.
And that’s not even the coolest part. We have a wonderful cetacean sanctuary with a huge variety of species, from humpback whales to dolphins and sperm whales. Just thinking about a humpback whale swimming to the depths of the sea, just here, while I look at the sea from my window, makes me so excited and fascinated! And since I had this experience with Whalewatch Genova I can’t stop thinking about it every time I look out to the blue.
Stenellas are awesome. They are SO friendly and curious. After the first school of stenellas we saw another one, and another one… Even on the way back, we kept spotting them, and even common dolphins (tursiops or “bottlenose dolphins”).
The Zyphius, on the contrary, is a very shy creature. We saw 4 of them throughout the excursion, but that takes patience and skill: the ones we saw were alone, except one that had a baby Zyphius on the side.
There is one thing I will never forget, the most precious memory I took home after that magical experience. Something I didn’t even think of, before stepping on the boat: the sound of a cetacean’s breath, just a few meters away. Engines off, in silence, we were all mesmerized. Silence. Inhale. Silence. Exhale. Silence. The immensity, the wonder, the beauty of the sea.
Describing is impossible. You have to experience this. Don’t miss it!
Thank you very much Whalewatch Genova (here is their website for better pics and info) and Incoming Liguria (here is their website for tailor-made excursions in Genova) for having me and giving me the chance of experiencing this. Forever grateful!