Unexpected encounter with a blue whale in Tenerife after four years without detecting any

A blue whale was recorded in waters of Tenerife last Monday after four years without having registered any meeting of this type. The unusual sighting was captured in video by the business owner Bonadea II, dedicated to excursions to observe dolphins, whales and other marine fauna in their natural habitat. The images were shared on his Facebook account and quickly went viral.

Mass tourism and a new commercial port in Fonsalía: the dangers that threaten the recently created whale sanctuary in Tenerife

Mass tourism and a new commercial port in Fonsalía: the dangers that threaten the recently created whale sanctuary in Tenerife


The company has told this newspaper that it is very rare to see blue whales, although “a week ago another was seen in La Gomera.” They recognized it because when it got up and came to the surface, a perceptible “turquoise color” was seen in the video. “This is the most characteristic aspect to recognize them,” he explains. In fact, the clarity that these specimens reflect in the water is what gives rise to their name. They also knew how to recognize it by “the fin or the specks on its body” and because the person who saw it is an expert on cetaceans, who immediately recognized that it was a blue whale. “If the person who sees it does not identify it, it passes as if it were a rorqual whale. We believe that they tend to see more, perhaps not every year, but more, what happens is that they do not identify themselves”, explains the company.

Blue whales are the largest animals that exist on Earth. They are bluish in color with gray tones, measure between 25 and 30 meters long and weigh around 100 tons. They are present in all oceans, but where they are found the most is in the North Pacific and North Antarctic oceans, where the highest concentrations of this species have been recorded.

The surprising encounter took place in the waters of the west coast of Tenerife, an area rich in some types of cetaceans, with even resident populations of pilot whales or pilot whales, and the presence of sperm whales, turtles and even humpback or humpback whales, which They have also starred in viral encounters. These waters have been, for barely three years, the only Whale Sanctuary in the European Union, and the third in the world.

Tenerife, a sanctuary for whales

These waters comprise the Teno-Rasca marine strip, which covers an area to the west of the island of Tenerife of 69,000 hectares, and bathes the coastline of the municipalities of Buenavista del Norte, Santiago del Teide, Guía de Isora, Adeje and Arona. Some 600 specimens of cetaceans, loggerhead turtles, dolphins and sperm whales are concentrated in it.

However, there is a small plot that is not included within the strip, precisely where the Government of the Canary Islands, when it was led by the Canary Islands Coalition, planned to build a new commercial port: Fonsalía, a maritime infrastructure that would occupy more than 222,000 square meters. with a platform with five berthing lines for large ships, a fishing dock, 200 dry dock spaces and 467 jetty spaces in the sports area.

In October 2021, the plenary session of the Canary Islands Parliament agreed to “the definitive abandonment” of the construction of the Fonsalía macroport, in a vote promoted by Sí Podemos, as well as any budgetary investment related to it. This construction was devised at the end of the 20th century, when in 1998 the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Port Authority included in its annual report the construction of the port of Fonsalía to relieve the traffic that occurred at the entrance and exit of the Los Cristianos pier.

In this area, maritime traffic is intense, with numerous passenger routes between islands, in addition to the existence of several marinas and countless recreational boats, which has sometimes led to accidents between humans and animals, such as the sad case of hope the whale.

There are regulations for the correct approach to cetaceans, but they are not always complied with, especially for boats and jet skis that can be rented without any type of maritime license.

A research from various European universities, including the University of La Laguna, published in 2021, determined that the more intense noise of the gasoline engine of a hybrid whale watching boat affects the decrease in rest and lactation in finned pilot whales. The findings showed that even if whale watching boats meet current guidelines, noisier engines can have a negative impact on cetacean behaviour.

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