This year everything is different. I’m Lisa Steiner and this is the first diary entry for the Azores 2020 (mini) expedition.
I have been the scientist on this expedition for the last sixteen (!) years and normally the expedition leader would write this, but this year everyhing is different.
The coronavirus has stopped the world in its tracks. It’s also made citizen scientist participation in the expedition impossible, so starting tomorrow, I will have a mini expedition with myself, a local skipper and his boat only. Thank you for Biosphere Expeditions, and by extension to all you citizen scientist out there, who are now probably in lockdown at home, for making this possible through your funding!
It’s not been easy to get this mini expedition going. First, Horta harbour is closed to any activity except fishing, so I needed to see if an exemption could be granted for research trips. After clarifying some details, such as I am in fact resident on the island (so no quarantine required), the restriction was lifted as scientific research was deemed professional work, which it is. Then I had to find a suitable private boat (tourist boats are banned from going out). So I called another friend that has a sailing boat and he said OK! Then I had to get a permit for the boat and now we are finally good to go!
So from tomorrow the challenge will be to find whales. I have contacted a couple of the lookouts to see if they will spot whales for me, since I won’t have a hydrophone to find sperm whales on my own. If things go well tomorrow, I will try to adapt the small directional hydrophone used on the whale watching RIBs (Rigid Inflatable Boat) to use on my friend’s yacht.
Watch this space and wish me luck. Hopefully things will go well tomorrow.