In truth, I never envisaged having anything about my weeks all-inclusive holiday to Tenerife being blog worthy, but then Pilot Whales happened. Pilot Whales are certainly blog worthy!
Yep, an all-inclusive holiday – a sun worshiping, book reading, getting fat and generally not moving a lot kinda holiday. I know, it’s about as far away from backpacking as you can get, and shouldn’t really feature on this site at all in theory, but then on the single day we did leave the meal time oriented confines of our hotel, we saw something rather special, something very much worthy of writing about and posting on this site.
Off to see the sea (and Pilot Whales)
I’m always slightly skeptical of boat trips offered by hotels and hostels. They all seem very much alike i.e. very little room, questionable chicken or fish lunch, overpriced bar etc. Admittedly its nice to cruise along over ocean waves for a few hours, but not when its TFL style and a random is sitting in your lap due to lack of seating. So it was with more than a hint of trepidation that I agreed to take this particular boat trip with my friends, at £50 a head it wasn’t overly cheap.
Now the flyer had made the tour look good, I’ll admit that much. Free drinks aboard a fancy looking yacht. no children (sorry loving parents, that’s nothing against your offspring) and guaranteed sightings. How you guarantee sightings of wild creatures I’ll never now, but that’s what the flyer said, and to their credit they were correct on this ocassion. Setting sail from Costa Adeje on the south west coast of Tenerife, we found that the drinks were included, that the yacht was immaculate and as advised we did in fact see them, LOTS of them. They were beautiful and they looked a little bit like this …
Pilot whales are among the largest of the oceanic dolphins
What? That makes no sense! Are they whales, or are they dolphins?
Well technically they’re a part of the dolphin family, but commonly referred to as whales … yeah I don’t really get it either, but whatever you prefer to call them (with the maturity of all 30 year olds, we settled on calling them whalefins), they are incredible.
We actually caught sight of these guys during nap time, hence being able to get so close. The way they sleep is mind blowing in itself. Being mammals, and needing to breath oxygen obviously, and so sleep one side of the brain at a time. The side of the brain which is awake keeps them at the waters surface and breathing. Pretty cool right!? Here’s a couple more Pilot Whale factoids for you:
- Squid is the main food source for Pilot Whales. The majority of their feeding activities take place at night.
- In order to catch their dinner, they have to be incredibly quick, and they are! Their speed has earned them the nickname Cheetahs of the Deep.
- When hunting, Pilot Whales are able to dive up to 1950ft, but have to come up for air at least once every 10-15 mins.
- They live in pods, with the number ranging anywhere from 10-100. The males and the females will remain in the same pod as their mother for life. This is very unusual with any mammals
- Females Pilot Whales will have one offspring every 3-6 years. Pregnancy to birth takes between 12-16 months.
- New born Pilot Whales can be from 5-6 ½ feet long at birth and can weigh up to 165 pounds. They may drink the milk from their mother from 18-44 months.
- Age wise, males can live up to 35-45 years. Females can live up to 60 years of age.
- There are two types of Pilot Whale – short fin and long fin. Short-finned Pilot Whales tend to be found in warmer waters, long-finned in colder waters.
|Long Finner Pilot Whale||Short Finner Pilot Whale|
|Males up to 25ft long, females up to 19ft||Males up to 18ft long, femailes up to 12ft|
|Males can weigh around 5,000 pounds, females around 2,900 pounds||Vary significantly in weight from 2,200 pound to around 6,600 pounds depending on location.|
I believe we spent a grand total of 3 hours out at sea that day, lounging in the nets aboard the yacht, catching some rays, feeling the splash of the ocean, having a couple of beers, meeting new people and having sight of the Pilot Whales for over a third of that time. It was easily the best couple of hours we had that week, and if anything highlighted to me that I am not one for sitting around and doing nothing but eat and drink, I need to be out and about, doing things and having adventures – a bit like how I spent a few days in Barcelona earlier in the year. The odd week in the sun is great, but I think that if I did a similar holiday next year, I would definitely hire a car and get out and about a bit more – budget allowing of course.