Azores: Halfway headlines

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

We have reached the halfway point of this year’s project. And the last two days at sea have seen us extend the species list for 2018, with a fleeting glimpse of striped dolphins. We were also fortunate to encounter a group of Risso’s dolphins, whilst still spotting sperm, fin and blue whales.

While the striped dolphins may have been fleeting, the baleen whales provided the most frustration with both blue and fin whales constantly disappearing, and then reappearing minutes later behind the boat – or at ‘6 o’clock’, as the team would shout.  Our aft observers were kept busy. Never did I think that two of the biggest species could give us such the run-a-round!

Team 2 has managed to extend the species list to four dolphin species and five whale species now recorded in 2018, and a staggering 36 loggerhead turtles recorded in just the past week! More impressively, not only do we have matches for one of the humpbacks, but one (of the four) blue whales spotted has been matched to another Azores record in 2012, and some of the sperm whales have been matched to multiple years around the Azores, as far back as 2003. So that is confirmed matches for three species already!

However, perhaps as impressively, one of our citizen scientists (Thomas) brought a sperm whale fluke image he had taken in Norway, and Lisa was able to match that to another record just off Pico! Now that illustrates the power of citizen field science.

We say a huge thank you to Team 2, and their collective contribution and hard work at sea. Even down to the last hour on the boat, they were ever vigilant, with a final fin whale spotted, of course by our aft observer, at ‘6 o’clock!’. Nice work Veronika!

So as we bid Team 2 farewell, we wait to welcome Team 3, and hope they too bring the luck with the whales and the weather. And don’t forget to look behind you!

I’ll let the pictures and expeditioners speak for themselves, though…

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