I have made it safely to the lush green island of Faial in the middle of the Atlantic. Heavy rain welcomed me at the airport, but by the time the taxi dropped me off at Banana Manor, the sun was shining and this pattern was repeated for most of the day. Very typical Azores weather, so come prepared. Note to self: never walk out the door again without a raincoat.
I received a warm welcome from our hosts James and Claudia and you will see Banana Manor is a very nice, clean, comfortable and quiet place to stay and within walking distance from the city centre. For me the true highlight is the lush wild garden, a green oasis with the most spectacular views in all directions.
It was also nice to see our expedition scientist Lisa again after four years and together we are transforming Banana Manor into a true expedition base: sorting out all the gear, computers, data sheets, publications etc, to have everything ready for all of us to get into action.
On the whale front, Lisa was treated on Monday to no fewer than 14 sperm whales of which nine were known individuals, resightings from 2009, 2010, 2014 and 2016. Amazing how after so many years of research, a detailed image of a fluke can reveal so much about an individual. One whale was kind enough to breach three times. Let’s hope we get the same Lisa-luck from next Tuesday onwards.
As for Covid, numbers on all islands are going down. The last update from 9 March indicates there were 180 positive cases in Faial, three of which needed hospitalisation. If this decrease is maintained for another week, there will be no more mandatory use of masks. Other restrictions have been lifted already, so it looks like it is going in the right direction. You can follow up the most recent updates here . For now, nothing changes for us, however, and we will stick to our testing and social distancing plan until Biosphere Expeditions decides otherwise.
So, group 1, good luck in packing up – don’t forget to pack your indoor slippers, warm clothes and foul weather gear. Safe travels and I look forward welcoming you here on Monday between 12:30 and 13:30 (no meeting a Peter’s beforehand, remember).