With around thirty different species of cetaceans, La Gomera is one of the best places in the world to watch marine mammals.
The Canary Islands is one of the most bio diverse places on the planet. Besides other amazing species, the islands are famous as a place to observe cetaceans and other marine species. The archipelago is one of the most important points in Europe to observe cetaceans in the wild. Among the thirty species of marine mammals that swim in this area, there are: spotted, bottlenose, and striped dolphins, rough-toothed dolphins, fin whales, sperm whales, and pilot whales. The sight of cetaceans is an unforgettable spectacle for visitors to the Canary Islands.
La Gomera is a standout island in the Canary Islands archipelago. It has a rich variety of ecosystems with a beautiful coastline and a diverse and abundant seabed with lots of fauna. The south of La Gomera is a unique space which allows visitors to contemplate the great spectacle of nature. La Gomera allows tourist to observe cetaceans such as the tropical pilot whale, which is the most common marine mammal in the Canary Islands. The tropical pilot whale can be easily identified by its rounded head and its large, curved dorsal fin in the front half of its body. The fin whale is also present off the coast of La Gomera. It is the only common baleen whale in the local waters. It can reach a length of between 12 and 14 metres with a weight of 12 tons. Its body is torpedo shaped. The marine mammal has a dark back and a light grey belly. The sperm whale is another species living nearby. This cetacean can measure up to 20 metres in length, which makes it one of the largest mammals in the world. Anybody who gets the chance to see a sperm whale is immediately struck by its enormous size.
Between Tenerife and La Gomera there is a 22 kilometre stretch of water which is a delight for whale lovers. This space is a special sanctuary for marine mammals. According to the World Cetacean Alliance, the waters are the first Whale Heritage Site in Europe and the third in the world. The area is populated by a colony of 550 pilot whales. There are also 23 other species of marine mammals. For visitors who are interested in whales there is nothing better than joining a trip on one of the 20 boats which have a special license to operate. Trips are a great way to get up close to nature and enjoy a marine show.
Dolphins, which are considered to be one of the most intelligent animals on the planet, are very regular visitors to the Canarian coast. In the archipelago there are six different species of dolphin present. Bottlenose dolphins, which can can exceed three metres in length, are the largest dolphins found in the Canary Islands. Another species found in La Gomera is the spotted dolphins which is known to be particularly curious, sociable, and playful.
In the Canary Islands there are six species of sea turtle: green turtle, hawksbill turtle, leatherback turtle, olive ridley turtle, and loggerhead turtle. The loggerhead turtle is the most frequently seen species on the archipelago. It is estimated that there are 30,000 loggerhead turtles swimming around the Canary Islands. Because turtles can face threats from fishing nets and hooks and a polluted seabed there are several turtle recovery centres in the Canary Islands which nurse sick turtles back to health and then return them to their natural environment.
Another unusual specimen found in the waters around La Gomera is the Cinderella Shearwater. This is an emblematic seabird that welcomes visitors when they set foot on the island. Other fabulous species of bird on La Gomera include the pichoneta shearwater and the capirotada shearwater.
Boat excursions for visitors are regulated with a “Blue Boat” certification system which regulates compliance with the law and makes sure the lives of the cetaceans are protected. Visitors are strictly forbidden in engaging in activities such as feeding the cetaceans or swimming with them. These rules are in place so that the cetaceans can have a happy life and tourists can continue to witness for years to come the unique spectacle on the ocean surface.
La Gomera has several companies that specialise in excursions to watch the cetaceans. The operators have both traditional and modern boats. There are tours for all tastes. Most of the trips depart from the port of Vueltas (Valle Gran Rey). There are also departures from Playa Santiago and from San Sebastián de la Gomera.