Update from our volunteer vacation / conservation holiday protecting whales, dolphins and turtles around the Azores archipelago (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/azores)

Tuesday we came close to breaking the Biosphere Expeditions record for the highest number of individual sperm whales catalogued in one day…we sighted 15 individual animals! We did, however, break the number of sperm whale breaches, with an astounding SIX breaches. Plus we saw another two sperm whale tail lobs. A tail lob is when a large whale positions themselves downwards vertically and then slaps the water surface with the stock of their tail.

On the way back to base we also saw two pods of Risso’s dolphins and a small group of striped dolphins.

Wednesday Ana Besugo, a researcher with the Departamento de Oceanografia e Pescas, Universidade dos Açores, came on board with us. Thanks to her we caught and tagged our first loggerhead turtle of Team 3. Volunteers saw Ana in action taking samples from the loggerhead, including barnacle scrapings and the turtle crabs. Most loggerheads have one or two crabs that live underneath the shell of the turtle close to the anus in a symbiotic relationship. The crabs clean, and the turtles provide protection.

The team did a terrific job again with big rolling waves and choppy seas today. We were treated to 20 common dolphins only a half hour from the harbour, then spent the rest of the day bouncing in between fin whales (6 in all), blue whales (2), and a humpback whale. The humpback was not bothered by the boat at all; matter of fact, he was downright photogenic. He fluked very close straight towards the boat, and then fluked very close going away from the boat, giving us some excellent ID pictures. (Thanks Ann for letting me post your pictures!)

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Update from our volunteer vacation / conservation holiday protecting whales, dolphins and turtles around the Azores archipelago

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