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The Swimming of the Bulls

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Ernest Hemmingway popularized the running of the bulls in Pamplona and when the festival of San Fermín rolls around (it started yesterday!!!), I experience a familiar bittersweet emotion that consists of excitement and fear for all of the tourists attending this annual celebration. We’ve had a rocky start since a teen was gored to death on Tuesday while participating in a bull run in the Zamora province.

While heaps of controversy surrounds the tradition, swarms and swarms of tourists still flock to Pamplona every year just to witness the spectacle. The running of the bulls is world famous but what about the swimming of the bulls?

Bous a la Mar, Bulls at the Sea in Catalan, occurs once a year in Denia, Alicante during the second week in July. As a matter of fact, it almost coincides with the running of the bulls. The highlight of this celebration is watching bulls run down Calle Marques de Campo, the main street in Denia, chasing after brave or probably drunk tourists who are daring enough to enter the seaside bull ring with them and convince the bulls to chase them into the sea.

If watching bulls dive into the Mediterranean isn’t your thing, Alicante also has many wonderful dive sites. The Tabarca Island reserve is a protected island located only a stone’s throw away from Denia. Water temperatures average roughly 14 degrees in the winter and 24 in the summer. You can boat dive here and the gin colored waters provide crystal clear visibility and the various types of fish such as conger, lobster, octopi, barracuda, grouper and other reef species make the Neptune grass prairies come alive.

The Mediterranean monk seal populated the region up until the 1960´s but poaching has almost caused this very endangered animal to become extinct. Since the island was declared a Marine reserve in 1986, plans to reintroduce the seals are in the works. While this is a wonderful thing, try and visit the island before they reconquer it, since they do tend to be quiet loud and stinky. There are also various wrecks near the island such as the SS Mardinian and the SS Ville De Verdun.

Getting to Costa Blanca, Alicante is straightforward and divers can either catch a flight from any major European city or board a RENFE train from other parts of Spain in order to get to Alicante. It is obligatory to have diver’s accident insurance in order to dive in Spain. Real Divers Insurance (RDI) is the most common type and is valid for a year from the purchase date. You must also obtain permission from the Marine Reserve in order to dive near the island due to its protected status. Make sure to do this at least ten days before your arrival, this way your dive center will have plenty of time to process the paperwork for you.


Here are the contact details to a couple of dive centers if you decide to visit Costa Blanca.

Diverstime + 34 965419950

Turkana +34 965 705 111

Academy Santa Pola +34 965 414 510

Tauchschule Octopus Calpe +34 679 758 460

Photo Credit (in order of appearance):

1. Running of the bulls, credit: inthesitymad

2. Bous a la mar, credit: AFP

4. Mediterranean monk seal: Giovanni Dall’Orto

Article by Michael Dawson from Diving Discoveries

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