A whale in Fossamastra (and other cetaceans in the Gulf of La Spezia)
The dolphins they show up frequently in the waters of the Gulf of La Spezia, but every now and then peep the whales. In Fossamastra occurred in 1955 and the beached whale turned into a local attraction. In Porto Venere it happened more often.
All it needed was the news of the sighting of a Whale not far from the Island Palmaria, August 9, 2016, to send into chaos the web in La Spezia. Although it seems strange, the presence of large cetaceans in the Gulf of La Spezia – still a rare event – is not unique. In the history of the navy of La Spezia, in fact, there are several episodes. The most famous one is the whale of Fossamastra episode, dating back to 1955 ; the most recent one of the two whales that – in the most recent August 2013 – crossed the Porto Venere channel.
The whale of Fossamastra: a five Tons giant on the shores of the Gulf of Spezia
The chronicles of the time tell of a crazy city, with long and curious tourists cues to attend a fact no one could remember before. And in fact what happened between June 5 and June 6, 1955 in Fossamastra seemed to all something unique.
After an evening meeting on June 5, five boys from a boxing companies went on the pier of the club Olimpya to enjoy a bit ‘of the sea breeze. Their attention was attracted by a hissing sound coming from inside the neighbor’s yard. Intrigued, they tried to figure out what it was and saw that it was a big whale, stranded on shore, blowing a jet of water and stirring the water around.
It was a whale – which experts established to belong to the family of Sperm Whales – the length of fifteen meters and weighing five tons.
Testimonies of the time (to decide whether to rely on or not) tell that the boys pulled the animal to shore using a steel cable tied around the tail, then climbed on its back. Unfortunately, it is also said that young people tried to put an end to what they found in the yard (which would be unthinkable today), but failed in the attempt.
Biologists said that the whale had lost its way by following a ship and that – exhausted by the food shortages suffered in the Mediterranean compared to Oceans – had run aground on the shores of the Gulf of La Spezia not having the strength to proceed to sea.
Whatever the cause of his misfortune, the whale was dying for a few days in Fossamastra and became an attraction not only for La Spezia, but also for people from other cities (we are told of caravans of people who came from Tuscany and Emilia to see it). Aided by the extensive feedback we had in the newspapers, the sad story of the sperm whale of Fossamastra called to La Spezia thousands.
A few days after the death, the immense body of the whale was still in Fossamastra. Because of the stench of decomposition, the health authorities ordered it to be taken away. At this point, therefore, the memory is confused and there are two versions of the story.
Some say that the remains of the whale were taken out to sea and sunk, and some say that a lady owner of a cosmetics firm of Parma offered to carry the bulk lifeless body in hes establishment, to make of it what was possible. According to this version, the smelly load was stopped by the health authorities of the Emilian city before it arrived in the center and was forced to be put the body under the bed of the river Taro.
Whales in Porto Venere: mid-August 2013
Much more recent and vivid is the memory of the visit of the whales in 2013.
In the days before Mid-august 2013 tsome started to notice two small whales in the Gulf. The first voices and images were met with skepticism.
Unbelief had to stop on 13 August 2013, when the backs of the two whales – one sadly hurt by a propeller – made a fine show in the channel of Porto Venere packed with sunbathers (see video below).
The end of their story is certainly happier than the one of the Fossamastra whale. The Port Authority, in collaboration with marine biologists could monitor their movements ( boat traffic was also closed in the Canal of Porto Venere) to take them off, even though with no small difficulty.