Hello Azores expeditioners
It’s time for the initial introductions. I am Craig Turner and I’ll be your expedition leader in the Azores this year.
It is great to be going back to the Azores again, making my annual migration from the north of Scotland to enjoy the marvels of this mid-Atlantic location. And escape a pre-Brexit Britain!
I am currently organising and packing my kit, checking that I have all I need for the next month – so don’t forget to check the project dossier. It will be great to meet up with friends and colleagues from previous years, not least, our scientist Lisa Steiner.
If you want to find cetaceans in the Azores, then she is the person to find them. I hope you have read the latest expedition report and Lisa’s publications on sperm whales, humpback whales, photo ID, marine predators and long-distance movement of sperm whales 1, 2 and 3 ,then you’ll know, not what to expect, but what we hope to record. Last year, you’ll note we had a variety of records – so you never can be too sure what ‘data’ we will collect. With Lisa already reporting sightings of humpbacks and sperm whales, not to mention the odd turtle, we could be lucky again.
As you can read in the 2018 report, this is what we’ll do
• continue the photo ID work on the various species
• continue matching fin whales to confirm if the fin whales visit in multiple years and send to other catalogues around the Atlantic
• start matching Sei whales to confirm if they are visiting repeatedly, as well as sending images to other catalogues around the Atlantic
• put more effort into the trash survey, as part of the POPA programme, which began in 2016. Marine litter is already a huge problem, with micro plastics finding their way into the fish we eat. Maybe even have a dedicated beach clean during the expedition
I arrive on Wednesday morning, a couple of days before the expedition starts, in order to set up. I’ll send around another message once I am on the ground in Horta and confirm my local contact details.
This reminds me to mention communications on the island. There’s cell/mobile reception on Faial in addition to internet via public hotpots and free WiFi in most cafes, but remember the golden rule of no cell phone communications while we’re at sea. Hopefully, you can resist the need for frequent international comms, and why not go off-grid for the expedition, and soak up the experience of Atlantic island isolation.
I hope you’ve all been eagerly reading your expedition materials and know to bring many layers of clothing. The weather can be a bit like four seasons in one day, so prepare for warm, cold, wet and dry – usually on the same day. Just like the weather in Scotland! Don’t forget your waterproof trousers – you’ll thank me when you are stationed on the bow of the boat as a lookout and the weather is choppy (so also bring your motion sickness pills/patches – if you know you need them!).
With the local team in place, whale sightings already logged by Lisa, all we are missing is you. It will be great to meet you all. Safe travels and here’s to another month working in the EU!