The Riviera is a starting point…
Sanremo and the Riviera are in an ideal position to enable visitors to explore a magical marine area where thousands of cetaceans gather in the warmer months. The lovable marine mammals are protected by an international convention covering a large area between Corsica, Liguria and Southern France. That’s why you can easily go out to sea and watch protected species while respecting the ecosystem. Ordinary dolphins and striped dolphins are sure to come and greet you jumping out of the water and playing next to the vessel. With a little luck you will be able to sight the placid bulk of the imposing rorqual. Or you can see the raised tail of a sperm whale diving into the marine depths in its search for his favourite food, calamari. You can come across some more unusual specimens such as a Cuvier’s whale, or a group of grampi, with their striped backs, and it will be a different thrill each time.
… to get to know the cetacean sanctuary
Due to a series of marine and weather phenomenons the stretch of sea spanning from Capo Mele to the French coast is the richest in plankton of the entire Mediterranean Sea. Because of this biological fact innumerable rorquals and other cetaceans flock to the area, and can sometimes be seen even at a short distance from the coast. It is because of this unique natural resource that for years the Riviera has been considered the ideal base for a series of activities connected with the study and conservation of the ecosystem of the entire Ligurian Sea. As a matter of fact, during summer, cruises are organized on vessels, which are equipped for scientific research. Thus whale watchers can enjoy the extraordinary experience of being just a few meters away from the second largest animal that ever inhabited planet earth, while researchers gather information on them. Important studies have been conducted which, with the support of genetic tests have revealed that the Mediterranean population of common rorquals is in some ways different from the Atlantic ones. Hence the project designed by numerous environmental associations to create a protected area to safeguard the future of the species, finally became a reality last year.
Following considerable interest in cetaceans shown by the public, in 1996 a new type of compatible tourism came about in Liguria: whale watching. It means watching cetaceans within their natural environment from tourist vessels. Excursions take place between May and September, lasting around a day and are usually conducted under the supervision of a researcher collecting data on the sightings made during the excursion. This last aspect is very important as it enables us to gain more knowledge about these wonderful marine mammals the information gathered is made available to the scientific world. In the course of time there has been a steady increase in the number of passengers on the fully equipped whale watching vessels. This shows that the new type of cultural tourism is an excellent form of entertainment suitable for every age. It is also an invaluable source of knowledge to better understand the sea and its mysterious inhabitants.