Whales and Dolphins of Morocco
Stretching from the Western Sahara in the south to Algeria in the west, Morocco’s coastline is washed by both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, with the magnificent Strait of Gibraltar separating Morocco from Spain. This expanse of water, where the Mediterranean and Atlantic Oceans blend, is particularly rich in phytoplankton, offering a smorgasbord of nourishment to marine life – most notably whales and dolphins.
Bottlenose dolphins, spotted dolphins, rough-toothed dolphins and common dolphins are frequently seen frolicking off the shores of Morocco, almost all year round, but the best time to see whales is between April and October. At this time of the year tour groups out on boats in the Strait of Gibraltar, or offshore from Tangier, are likely to spot pygmy whales, pilot whales, sperm whales and orcas.
One of the problems facing whales and dolphins off the coast of Morocco, particularly in the Strait of Gibraltar, is the increase in traffic on the water. With an estimated 300 freight ships passing through on a daily basis, it is inevitable that these magnificent marine mammals sometimes suffer injury. One of the steps being taken to protect and support the dolphin population is the building of a sanctuary on the Moroccan coast near the city of Tangier. Sponsored by the Swiss-based non-profit Foundation for Information and Research on Marine Mammals (FIRMM), the Dolphin Sanctuary Ras Laflouka will be a haven for the rehabilitation of injured dolphins as well as for dolphins that have been held in captivity and need to be reacclimatized to their natural habitat before being released.
Some of the goals and features of the Dolphin Sanctuary in Ras Laflouka bay include keeping records of dolphin populations for monitoring purposes; offering research opportunities for scientists; providing emergency treatment for sick, injured, or stranded dolphins; offering an information center on the ecosystem and marine mammals of the Strait of Gibraltar; providing eco-friendly holiday accommodation; and developing scuba diving opportunities. To help finance this project, visitors will have the opportunity to interact with the dolphins in a safe and stress-free environment, knowing that as they enjoy the experience, they are also helping FIRMM to continue with this worthy cause.