by Christina Sommer
Our two-week behavioural biology internship course on La Gomera consisted of 7 whale watching tours and 5 meetings for a total of 8 participants.
In our working meetings we focused on the biology of the cetacean species and their behaviour, methods of data acquisition and the challenges the animals face in their habitat. This year we put our attention on the topic of bioacoustics, in particular underwater noise and communication. How loud are ships or seismic surveys? What are the short and long term consequences of too much noise? Recently published scientific articles also engaged us with the current scientific discussion. We almost always had very favourable observation conditions with little swell on our boat tours. Although we weren’t always lucky when it came to sightings, we did have some very special encounters: we sighted rare Cuvier’s beaked whales and lively blue-white dolphins that dared come very close to our boat, agile bottlenose dolphins and very trusting and relaxed pilot whales. On our tours we also collected young Cory’s shearwaters which had not had a particularly successful take-off from their breeding caves on the cliff and transferred them to the Canary Islands nurturing program.
A lot was learnt during the course and I hope that my participants are inspired to continue to work intensively with cetaceans and the marine habitat!