Natural secrets of the Atlantic Ocean

Position: Horta, Faial (Azores)

“Whale on port side” these four words can stop every work on board. Even Ruth who already saw a lot of whales and dolphins, on former KUS-turns, pauses her tasks and runs to port side and searches for whatever the lookout saw.

Whales are the most mysterious thing at sea. These gigantic animals who are said to have sunken ships in the former past like in Melville’s world-famous novel Moby Dick. We didn’t see so many of them, on one hand they mostly can only be seen for a view seconds and then only their back – except for one time when the whale jumped out of the water and splashed on his back, but only Meli and Simon saw this – and on the other hand they are really rare, since the humans chased them for their oil for a long period of time.

In contrast to these rare heavy gentle giants are the happy dolphins, which we could see more often than big whales. It is very funny to watch them jump out of the water, chase each other and surf on the bow wave of our ship. The best place to watch them is the rig, where you can look right through the waves what is going on below the surface. Sometimes it is just like in Hollywood films where they jump out the waves and dive in another, or they swim right before the bow and we watch them from the fore deck and they are so near that you feel like you could almost touch them.

But most of the time we can see neither whales nor dolphins just the blue water clean and empty. But is it really empty? No, there is much more live then we could ever imagine. The students from the marine biology workshop once fished for plankton and analysed it by watching it under a microscope. It was fascinating to see how many numbers of completely different animals in a lot of different colours can be found in a little sample of water – normally hidden from the human eyes. There were little blue crabs and some almost transparent animals offering their inner secrets.

In my opinion the most secret thing about the ocean is its beauty and variety – sometimes hidden, sometimes obvious. The sea is changing day by day. One day it appears deep blue and nice, one day it is grey, stormy and nasty, one day it´s flat, one day the waves are as big as a house, one day you think you can touch the ground, one day you can’t even look through the surface. In the lookout I love just staring at the sea and listen to the silence and the sound of the waves. In the night you can see the stars better than anywhere on land, the moon is reflecting in the waves and the bioluminescent organisms are looking like stars under the surface. Sometimes a wave brings a view of them on deck, then they look like fireflies and I would like to catch one of them.

These are things I would never have explored, if I didn’t participate at KUS. It is hard to describe what is going on in your mind when you feel the wind in your hair, hear the waves, smell the sea and watch the dolphins play in the deep blue water.

I’m looking right forward to the moment the next person shouts: “Dolphins on port side” or “Whale on starboard”. All these things are my favourite natural secrets of the Atlantic Ocean.