Dolphins of the Galician estuaries
In Galicia dolphins are called 'golfiños'. In the Galician estuaries, one of them named Gaspar gained such local fame that it had its own page on Wikipedia, after visiting the port of Cangas do Morrazo. There is a resident population of dolphins living off the coast of Galicia, with the peculiarity that they coexist happily with humans.
"We have identified about 300", explains biologist and director of the NGO Coordinadora para el Estudio dos Mamíferos Marinos (CENMA), Alfredo Lopez, "but we estimate that the total population is about 600." Identified by photos of their fins, these cetaceans of the Galician estuaries have been seen to have open societies, with herds consisting of a fixed number of individuals and others who join.
The reason why "they live very close" to humans is that the coasts are less than 20 meters deep, and they travel around places that in some parts of the estuaries are, as Lopez explains, "within walking distance" . "This is an advantage that allows us to observe them," he says, "and to enjoy them without interfering with their lives."
The trick that Lopez recommends to study the dolphins in action is to be patient and take binoculars, to go to a high place where there is good visibility and scan the horizon until they appear. "The problem is that they are animals that move a lot, so it is hard to know where they are and you have to be very determined," he explains. "We also took the opportunity to see birds and have a few pasties." Among the beaches from where they can be seen with a little luck are those of the Cangas, such as Limens and Rodeira.
Lopez warns that these coastal herds are very vulnerable, especially in the summer, due to the "jet skis." Besides studying their behaviour, CENMA also conducts awareness campaigns to ensure that the human impact on them is minimal. They therefore explain to tourists and locals that they can enjoy the golfiños and even play with them if they come to the boat where you are sailing, but that they should never chase them because this causes stress and can lead to these groups, often of females with young, dividing because of the sense of danger and leaving the babies abandoned.
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