Expeditions always bring variety.
In the Azores, this comes in many ways, but most obviously with the arrival of our next international group of volunteers. With a range of different travel challenges behind them, all are now present and correct. And so Slot 2 begins.
With the normal orientations and briefings completed without any issues, we were soon on our research boat heading out to sea. It is a rapid learning curve, trying to grasp new survey techniques, understand ‘job roles’ and adjusting to working on a moving boat.
Nerves are normally settled with an initial cetacean sighting, and our first one for this group did not disappoint – a blue whale. If you are waiting to see your first whale, you might as well make it the biggest! In addition to a fin whale and common dolphins, we could also add striped dolphins to the encounters list. That is two new species for the 2016 expedition on the first day at sea for Slot 2.
Our second day on the boat turned out very differently. Let’s just call it super sperm whale Sunday. We sailed to the south of Pico island, where sperm whales had been sighted, and sure enough our encounters began. One fluke followed another and before we knew it we had clocked 35 encounters – females, males and females with calves. Add into the mix some common dolphins, an unknown species of beaked whale and several turtles (including at least one during a turtle survey – cheers Lisa!) it was quite a day.
But some days just get better. One of our volunteers (Helga) had opted to cook dinner that was hugely appreciated and enjoyed by all – thank you Helga. And post dinner, at a normal review of the day, and viewing of survey images, Lisa revealed we may have sighted (subject to more detailed analysis) up to 28 different sperm whale individuals. In her words, seeing 12 would be a very good day – this was exceptional. Super sperm whale Sunday.
So we all look forward to Monday morning ‘at the office’ once more. No doubt it will be different again, but that is one reason why you come on expedition – isn’t it?