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

Our multi-national team all arrived safely, via a mix of routes and modes of transport. So the first slot of 2016 begins.

With initial introductions, risks assessments and briefings completed, this morning we dived headlong into the research element of the expedition – the main reason why we have all travelled to the Azores. The scientific training began with familiarisation of equipment, which was followed by data records training, and rounded off with a boat orientation.

Our volunteers have clearly been good to the climate gods, as they have brought great weather with them. The team’s new-found cetacean research skills were soon put to the test, with sightings of common dolphins.

The luck continued, with a loggerhead turtle sighted during one of our designated ‘turtle time’ survey periods. Normally we see them outside ‘trutle time’, when they are logged as ‘random sightings’. A great job by Ralf in spotting the turtle, and custom has it, that such a sighting means our scientist Lisa buys a drink for each member of the team – thank you Ralf!

The sightings continued with a small group of Risso’s dolphins, located close to Pico Island. This species is resident in the Azores. When born they are very dark in colouration, but become ‘scratched’ with age, through social interactions, exhibiting unique hieroglyphic markings on the bodies and dorsal fins. The scratch marks can be used to identify individuals.

The day was rounded off learning key identification features of species we will hopefully encounter. The team are now poised and ready for action. So a great start to the expedition and the data collection. The whales will have to wait for another day…but you always have to have something to look forward to…

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

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