After an early start for the final pieces of preparation, we can at last say a big Azorean welcome to our expeditioners.
The team all arrived safely, from the north, east and west; via a mix of routes and modes of transport. The good news is they are all present and correct and very excited. So the first slot of 2015 officially begins.
With initial introductions, risks assessments and briefings completed, we stretched our legs with a whistle–stop orientation around Horta. Whilst important for us to impart the initial project knowledge, it has been great to learn about our new team. The day was rounded off with our first dinner, created in-house by the team – a tasty vegetarian pasta it was too!
Rested and recuperated from the travel and briefing exertions of yesterday, the science training began today. Familiarisation with equipment was followed by data records training, and rounded off with a boat orientation – though the latter was slightly delayed, as our vessel went (without us) to the aid of another boat stranded engineless in the harbour – always be prepared for the unexpected!
Slightly less than unexpected was the small ‘weather spanner’ thrown into the workings of the expedition, as our training session at sea was postponed by high winds. Tomorrow looks more favourable, so it will be all systems go as our team put their new-found knowledge into practice. The whales won’t have to wait for us much longer 😉
The weather delay meant Lisa (our scientist) could give a background talk on cetaceans, and the team could acquaint themselves with the data entry and the fluke matching process – how we identify and track individual whales.
The day was rounded off learning key identification features of species we will hopefully encounter, the team are now poised and ready for action. All we need now is a good night’s rest and the right weather for whales…
It’s time for the initial introductions. I am Craig Turner and I’ll be your expedition leader in the Azores this year. It is great to be going back after my first stint last year.
I am already on route, having packed my gear and left the snowy hills of north Scotland yesterday. Today is the Lake District to Lisbon leg, and tomorrow Horta. It will be great to meet up with friends and colleagues from last year, not least our scientist Lisa Steiner. If you want to find cetaceans in the Azores, then she is the person to find them. Last year, my baptism was blue – a great way to kick off our data collection. Who knows what it will be this year, with an early and rare rumour of orcas in the wider area.
I arrive a couple of days before you in order to set up the expedition headquarters. We’ll have Anthony and Chris as expedition-leaders-in-training along with us on each slot, which will be a great addition to the team. I’ll send around another message once I get on the ground in Horta and confirm my local telephone number.
This reminds to mention communications on the island. There’s mobile phone reception on Faial in addition to internet here and there, but there’s also a golden rule of no cell phones while we’re at sea. Hopefully you can resist the need for frequent international comms, and why not go off the grid for the expedition, and soak up the expedition experience.
I know you’ve all been eagerly reading your expedition materials and know to bring many layers of clothing. The weather can be a bit like four seasons in one day, so prepare for warm, cold, wet and dry. Like the weather in Scotland! Don’t forget your waterproof trousers – you’ll thank me when you are stationed on the bow as a lookout and the weather is choppy.
So with the local team in place, whale sightings already logged by Lisa, all we are missing is you. This Monday morning is hopefully one we are all looking forward to….. It will be great to meet you all and I’ll send along another update very soon.