Azores : Tenacity rewarded

Update from our marine conservation volunteering holiday in the Azores archipelago, working on whales, dolphins and turtles

The harder you work, the luckier you get.

Sea day 3 began with clear skies and views of Portugal’s highest mountain on the Island of Pico. We headed for the lee of the island to increase our chances of sighting (and recording) target species. Despite the best efforts of the spotters and deployment of the hydrophone, we were not seeing (or hearing) anything. Eventually we received information that a humpback had been spotted off the north coast, so we headed into the somewhat rougher waters on the windward side of the island. This culminated in a 145 kilometre circumnavigation of Pico during which we did manage to find a juvenile humpback feeding and were even treated to a couple of breaches.

Sea day 4 came with more swell and another long day covering 108 kilometres north of Faial. This time sperm whales could be heard in the distance through the hydrophone. So we began the process of slowly honing in on their position. Sea conditions made it challenging and after hours of work, Alice finally spotted the blow as the whales surfaced just 200 metres from the boat. The resulting photos enabled Lisa to get positive IDs on four individuals, some of which had been recorded on previous expeditions of ours.

After four days at sea, fatigue was certainly evident amongst the team. But with incoming rough weather a 5th consecutive day on the water was decided upon. We were a couple of expeditioners down due to sea sickness and fatigue, but the team pulled together, with Emma and Elena volunteering to make sure all roles were covered.

Day 5 was a different story to the previous days, with calmer waters, no rain and more whales. We had over 20 sperm whale sightings with six individuals identified, and as if to reward the hard work of the previous days, we even managed to record a blue whale (we’re still waiting on any positive ID matches for this individual).

This Sunday the team are having a shore day and taking a well-earned rest. Fingers are firmly crossed for a break in the weather to enable one more day at sea.

Update from our marine conservation volunteering holiday in the Azores archipelago, working on whales, dolphins and turtles

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