Our first full day at sea, and it was one that isgoing to hard to beat. It seems we hit the large-whale jackpot thanks to our biologist Lisa Steiner and our Skipper Nuno. Today’s sightings included sei whales, fin whales, blue whales and…a sperm whale!
Almost all of our encounters were “random” (meaning not reported by the on-shore lookouts, but rather by us while on the water.) Sarah took excellent photographs and we were able to confirm that we saw the same groupings of fin whales in two separate locations. Tomorrow we’ll check our identification photographs against an international database to see how far and wide “our” whales have travelled.
Martin was our hero today when he heard the sperm whale clicks through the headset just after we’d given up and started pulling in the hydrophone, so we all got a chance to hear what a sperm whale sounds like as it dives. We also saw a grouping of 75 common dolphins just outside of the harbour.
We’re just off the water and Tim was our Super-Spotter of the day. He spotted the two dolphin fins that led us to a group of common dolphins. We photographed them and recorded pertinent data, then enjoyed their frolicking around the boat for a few moments before we changed course in search of other cetaceans. On the way back to the harbour Tim then spotted a turtle. Quite impressive given that the sea was rather rough and the turtle less than the size of a dinner plate. Irina was a fabulous photographer as you’ll see below.
All of team 1 arrived in time for lunch at Peter’s. It’s been the warmest day so far (20 degrees C) and the sun was shining strong.
The team met this afternoon to talk about expedition procedures, safety, and base camp ins-and-outs. Our biologist Lisa Steiner gave a brief overview of the research and how important our work is here in the Azores. We are all quite excited to head out onto the water tomorrow.
In the morning we’ll have a briefing on how to use the equipment, the data we need to collect, and how we record the data. After lunch we’ll head to the Physeter, our research vessel, and go out to sea. Many people in our group are not sure if they get seasick or not…luckily we’ll only be on the water for a half a day, and the pharmacy is only a few meters away!
We decided to cook dinner ourselves here at base in a group effort. Four year old Tiago, the son of the Banana Manor base owners, entertained us all with visits to meet the goats, and showed us our first whale sighting (on land, on his pedal bike).
Update from our volunteer vacation / conservation holiday protecting whales, dolphins and turtles around the Azores archipelago (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/azores):
Greetings from the Azores! Malika Fettak and I have been busy preparing for everyone’s arrival here in Horta, on the island of Faial. Working from Banana Manor, which will serve as our base camp for all three expeditions, we have been busy unpacking the expedition kit and preparing for your arrival. Today we are working with Lisa Steiner, our scientist, preparing the data sheets for the information we will be collecting in the field.
As you can see in the video (see below) it can be quite cool and wet (Lisa, who lives here, made fun of me today because I am wearing my hat!). While we expect to see some sunshine, be sure to pack your cool and wet weather gear as well as there is still a definite chill in the air!
Looking forward to meeting you
PS: The whales and dolphins are here! Lisa Steiner was out on the water yesterday collecting data, and she spotted one blue whale, one fin whale, and several groups of common dolphins and Risso’s dolphins.
Hello my Name is Alisa and I will be your expedition leader on this year’s Azores expedition – Fascinating creatures of the deep: Studying whales, dolphins and turtles around the Azores archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean.
I am writing this from the airport, where I am waiting for my flight to Lisbon and then to Horta. The gear is all packed up and organised, and I am very excited. This will be my first time on this particular expedition and there to show me the ropes for the first group will be “old” hand Malika Fettak.
If you are worried about seasickness, you are not alone, as we both suffer from it too, so I look forward to sharing space on the side of the research vessel with you 😉
I look forward to seeing the first team next week.