A pilot whale adventure

As I was about to go on vacation at the end of December 2021, I got invited to embark on a short sailboat adventure between the Canary islands of La Gomera and Tenerife. My friend Marie Kell, who I met back at the university, has been travelling with the SEAD Sailing crew and pursuing her dreams of listening to the cetacean vocalizations and fusing her passion for music to create meaningful conservation content for outreach.

Long ago, I decided to focus on the microscopic aspects of marine biology by studying phytoplanktonic communities and primary production, so when this sailboat expedition opened up, I joined with excitement of learning more about the macro-scale world. After making new friendships and celebrating Christmas together, we divided up into one group that would stay on La Gomera to make a basecamp and explore the green and another group that would sail towards Tenerife in search of whales and dolphins.

The days started off with a cappuccino making at sunrise when we would raise the mainsail and go towards the cetacean hotspots to record their complex communication. As soon as there was action in the water, we would systematically collect visual and sound data to process at the end of each day. The inconsistency of spottings really challenged us because there were times of constant movement around the boat, followed by long hours of nothingness. However, we were glad to be in the process of action and stillness practice, at the same time.

Five days later, we returned to La Gomera where we dedicated our time to walk around and conversate about what we’d just been through the previous days at sea. We bathed in creativity and eagerness of how we would speak up about our experience and finished the day by celebrating the new year’s eve with our friends that had established the basecamp. This marvellous voyage that we’d lived on left me to greet my friends goodbye and return back home with happiness in my heart. I am grateful to have been able to come along and learn more, especially because it was so different from what I am used to.

Thank you Kells, Stan, Matt, Cece, Jukou, Nico and Chris for the beautiful living on the Alba Volunteer!

Find more information about the SEAD Sailing project and watch the full short documentary here.

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