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Image of the fin whale surfacing off the coast of Torrox. Germán Luque
Nature

This is the moment endangered whales were spotted swimming near the shores of the Costa del Sol

A local policeman from Torrox shot the video footage of the two fin whales, considered to be the second largest animal in the world

Tuesday, 2 January 2024, 13:18

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Rising sea temperatures continue to bring us unusual sightings on the Costa del Sol. Although spotting huge whales is relatively frequent on the high seas, it is not so common to see them a few hundred metres from the coast.

This is what happened last Thursday evening to Germán Luque, a local policeman from Torrox, when he was sailing with his family off Ferrara beach, just 800 metres from the town's shore. The keen angler spotted two enormous fin whales, a critically endangered species of whale that can measure up to 27 metres in length and is considered the second largest living creature on the planet, after the blue whale.

"I have seen them close-up, and there is no doubt, they are like those that were filmed in La Herradura (Granada province) the day before. They entered from offshore towards Torre del Mar and turned around in front of the Iberostar hotel on Ferrara beach", Luque told SUR.

"I have been fishing for many years and I have never seen anything like this in my life, dolphins are often seen, but never whales", added the local Torrox man. "I didn't get closer because my wife was very nervous, screaming", confessed the police officer.

President of the Fundación Aula del Mar Mediterráneo, Juan Antonio López, after watching the video, confirmed that these are fin whales, "probably the same ones" that had been seen in previous days in La Herradura, in Almuñécar, in the neighbouring province of Granada and off the coast of the Nerja hamlet of Maro. SUR's sister newspaper Ideal in Granada had already reported these first sightings last Tuesday , sharing a video recorded by some divers from La Herradura.

"These are mammals that enter the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean to breed. Normally they travel several tens of naurtical miles from the coast, but as a consequence of climate change, we are detecting a bloom of plankton and krill, which are very small shrimps, which is their main food, and that is why they have come so close to the coast. It is not normal, nor usual, but we are recording unusually high temperatures in the sea and fish reproduction even in autumn," López claimed

Migratory behaviour

"These whales travel long distances, they have migratory behaviour, like birds, and from time to time they make stops to rest and feed. Having detected these plankton banks so close to the coast, in the area around the natural area of the Maro-Cerro Gordo cliffs, they have probably decided to take a break. Let's say they have come on holiday to the coast of Axarquia and the Costa Tropical of Granada", said the marine biologist.

These fin whales are highly endangered, as they were massively hunted in previous centuries and often suffer accidents when they collide with merchant ships. It is worth remembering that in January 2022 a fin whale was found dead on the beaches of Estepona. It was more than 14 metres long.

López recalled other recent episodes related to climate change in the Alboran Sea, such as the large shoals of laker fish detected in mid-November next to the Balcón de Europa , which were fleeing from a predator, or the massive presence of salps, a type of invertebrate, similar to jellyfish but not stinging, which have appeared in recent weeks on various beaches along the coast of Malaga, from La Cala del Moral to Torremolinos and Manilva.

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