The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) can reach 30 meters long and 173 tons in weight, so its sighting is simply spectacular. Formerly it was frequent in Galicia, but disappeared from these latitudes. Last year several copies were located, and that allowed us to recover hope. Now it seems to be confirmed that the species is fond of Galician waters, since the scientific community accounts for the sighting of another specimen, as well as the location of another humpback whale, whales, porpoises and, of course, a multitude of dolphins.

The Institute for the Study of Marine Mammals (BDRI, for its acronym in English), documented on Wednesday the presence of a blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) on the Galician coast. This new sighting of the largest animal on the planet has excited the scientific community, as it allows to conclude that the great cetaceans return to Galicia, and even that they come to stay.

It is a specimen “about 18 or 19 meters”, and therefore still “small”, taking into account that the species can reach 30 meters long. But it is a juvenile, and this is also good news, since the young approaching Galicia means that they have food, that they are comfortable here and that adults can walk nearby.

Its location reinforces the theory of those who believe that the increasing presence of bottlenose and common dolphins in the Galician estuaries, their reproduction in them and the increase of cetaceans does not obey chance, but is a direct consequence of the abundance of placton, fish and cephalopods.

As explained so many times, the abundance of phytoplankton can cause specific disorders when it is a carrier of biotoxins, since it forces to temporarily close the extraction of mollusks. But it is a natural phenomenon that is synonymous with wealth in the estuaries, since it is the nutrients that feed those products and also the whales themselves.

Hence, last year, between September 10 and October 31, the BDRI will censor, in eleven days of expeditions made between Fisterra and the Cíes Islands, no less than 60 whales, including five blue, forty common whales, nine aliblancos, two northern whales and two humpback whales.

This year the good news comes even earlier, demonstrating that the Galician coast, and the Rías Baixas in particular, “are a true paradise and a privileged refuge for both dolphins and large whales.”

This is stated by Bruno Díaz López, the director of the BDRI and the one in charge of confirming that it was on Tuesday when his team completed a work of enormous scientific value by locating, photographing and filming this blue whale specimen while feeding off the coast of the Coruña municipality of Cariño, curiously a place where the whaling industry once worked.

It was, he clarifies, “one of the best days of our expeditions in Galician waters in the five years that we have been here”, completing the studies that Bruno Díaz himself conducted in the Mediterranean.

Specifically, the crew of the BDRI ship sailed from O Grove on Tuesday to do sixteen hours of monitoring and travel over a hundred miles in front of the Rías Baixas and reach Fisterra.


More than two hours of follow-up

The most important from an environmental and scientific point of view was, without a doubt, the location of said blue whale, “which we could study while feeding for more than two hours”.

This is what leads the Brazilian biologist Bruno Díaz to highlight that “the blue whale has decided to feed in Galicia, so last year’s sightings were only the spearhead” and it is not far fetched to think that from now on it may return to be part of the Galician landscape, as they did in the past and as dolphins do now.

To better understand this optimism, it is necessary to detail that on Tuesday the BDRI not only located that blue whale, but also “half a dozen common whales – fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) -, with a size of about twenty meters, which They fed in the same area. ” In addition “we saw common porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) and had a beautiful encounter with a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) in front of the Rías Baixas, and it was not the same as another view days ago in Corcubión,” says an enthusiastic Bruno Díaz.

These situations, the researcher concludes, “may be frequent in California, but certainly they were not here in Galicia; although that seems to be changing”.


Source: Manuel Méndez en Faro de Vigo