Hello everyone and welcome to the first diary entry for Biosphere Expeditions’ Azores 2022. My name is An Bollen and I will be your expedition leader on this whale & dolphin marine conservation volunteer project to the Azores.
I now have some of the equipment at my home in Belgium (and more is stored on site).
As it happens, this will be the first Biosphere Expeditions volunteer project that is back on after two years ! I am really grateful to all of you citizen scientists for signing up and making this happen. I am sure many of us have been longing to get back out into the field and meet new people, whilst contributing time and energy to conservation and to volunteer with whales and volunteer with dolphins.
My own travels start next Thursday when I fly out to the beautiful Azores, where I will be preparing for your arrival together with Lisa, our expedition scientist, and Claudia and James, our hosts at Banana Manor. On the cetacean front, there is some good news already. Lisa has been out at sea and spotted the first blue whales, several male sperm whales and lots of common dolphins, so the 2022 season is off to a good start.
The weather is a bit hit and miss at the moment, as is often the case in the Azores this time of the year, so lets hope we get treated to some fine weather days and whale volunteer and dolphin volunteer action. Out at sea, it can get very cold and windy, so don’t forget to bring enough thermal wear. I find that putting on different layers works really well, combined with a wind- and waterproof jacket.
And of course, lets all be Covid smart and travel safely, as chances are that if we get infected, it will most likely be in the airport or on the plane. Don’t forget to bring your FFP2 masks (and use them whilst travelling!) and Covid self-tests so we can conduct this first expedition as professionally and safely as possible for everyone.
Remember that as part of our Covid procedures, this year we will not meet for drinks at Peter’s Café as we normally do at 11:30. Instead we will welcome you at our expedition base at Banana Manor (see position here) with all your luggage between 12:30 and 13:30 so you can get settled. Be sure to have lunch before you arrive, because at 14:00 the expedition starts officially and we get into action with introductions, talks and training.
Once I have arrived in Horta, I will send out another diary entry with my local contact details. If your family and friends back home would like to stay up to date while you are away, they can keep an eye on the Biosphere Expeditions blog (or subscribe to it for automatic updates) where I will publish diaries and photos regularly. If you are curious to see which whales and dolphins are currently being spotted out at sea, I recommend the Facebook page of our local partner Whale Watch Azores.
Looking forward to seeing you all soon !