Update from our whale and dolphin volunteer vacation / conservation holiday around the Azores archipelago (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/azores)

Slot 3 participants proved to be a terrific team in the last two days. Despite the rough seas and strong winds on the Atlantic, and an ever-bouncing Physeter, we recorded data and captured ID pictures on several loggerhead turtles, fin and blue whales. It was quite gratifying to see team members helping each other, particularly when Friday’s photographer Olga began bounding around the front deck and Yvonne helped by holding her in place on the railing during the animal encounters.

Thursday we were treated to two schools of striped dolphins North of Faial, and numerous sperm whale sightings. Again we were treated to calves suckling on the female whales. Friday brought us two large blue whales swimming together, and then the unusual (yet not unheard of) experience of a fin whale and blue whale swimming together. And to complete the blue whale experience for slot 3, we were able to make quality ID pictures on a blue whale swimming with an adolescent, most likely a calf from last year.

Sightings for team 3: sperm whale – 27 encounters, 55 animals | minke whale – 1 encounters, 1 animal | blue whale – 4 encounters, 6 animals | fin whale – 1 encounter, 1 animal | common dolphin – 10 encounters, 158 animals | bottlenose dolphin – 1 encounters, 4 animals | Risso’s dolphin – 5 encounters, 25 animals | striped dolphins – 2 encounters, 55 animals.

Thanks to all the team members who made this research possible by donating their time, energy and money. Thanks to you all, we were able to make several sperm whale matches to whales seen here in the Azores in previous years. Slot one identified a whale also seen here in 2010. In slot 2 we matched two: one to a whale seen in 2004 and another in 2010.  Slot 3 matched whales to 2005, 2007 and 2008.

We also were able to match two blue whales – Slot 1 matched a whale to 2006 and slot 2 matched one to 2010. We don’t have any information as yet on the blue whale matches from slot 3 because the registrar is currently out of the lab.

Lisa also sent off the Rissos dolphins photos, and from slot 3 the mother and calf from the North are recognised animals. And another group of 4 known animals and had been seen further down the coast of Pico the day before.

Thanks as well to Lisa and our skipper Nuno for helping us take part in this important research. They are some of the best cetaceans spotters in the North Atlantic and their expertise led us to seeing more animals than anyone else in the harbour – including other research vessels!

Thank you and I hope to see you again on expedition.

Alisa Clickenger
Expedition leader

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Update from our whale and dolphin volunteer vacation / conservation holiday around the Azores archipelago.

Update from our whale and dolphin volunteer vacation / conservation holiday around the Azores archipelago

The weather remains challenging as is the visibility and wind, and the team members have had to remain flexible. We had an unusual – and sad – sighting on Sunday when we saw a dead common dolphin. It was missing its tail, and we assume it got caught in a fishing net even though the tuna fisherman here in the Azores use hooks and not nets. Monday was the best day on the water for this slot so far – we saw Risso’s dolphins breaching, a giant sun fish, a loggerhead turtle, and a group of fourteen sperm whales with calves!

Risso's dolphins

Risso’s dolphins

Sperm whale

Sperm whale

Update from our whale and dolphin volunteer vacation / conservation holiday around the Azores archipelago