Sperm whales are the largest of the toothed whales, feeding on large squid species, which they hunt at depths below 4000 metres, making them the deepest diving whales in the ocean.
The aim of the research is to complete studies on these mysterious creatures as they migrate north via the Azores, study their behaviour, breeding season and collect data that will help support the conservation and protection of the species and their environment.
Study the charismatic bottlenose dolphin
The greatest characteristic of the bottlenose, beside its charisma, is its intelligence. Research on bottlenose dolphins has examined mimicry, use of artificial language, object categorisation and self-recognition.
Assist with the whale and dolphin survey
Lead by Dr Lisa Steiner, the data collected by your research will help provide the necessary information to address future conservation issues.
You will receive lectures regarding research undertaken to date and be directly involved with specific tasks to assist with on-going scientific studies, including:
As well as photographing whales and dolphins, researchers also record the time of day of each sighting, the size of the group, the presence of any calves, the exact position and direction of travel, the length of time spent on the surface, and any behavioural patterns manifested.
Other general environmental information such as water temperature, sea conditions, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, cloud cover, visibility, as well as the boat’s position, speed and heading are also recorded.
The work of the project also involves the occasional catching and tagging of loggerhead turtles, who are susceptible to getting entangled with drift nets and long trailing lines.
Dive with blue sharks
You may wish to use your shore days or extend your stay to dive with the blue sharks and devil rays in the Azores (June to October) and assist with underwater photo Identification (optional additional activity, contact us for more details).
The Azores lie on the blue shark’s summer migration pathway (as for whale research) and are one of the best destinations to dive with these elusive creatures, offering a good chance for a close underwater encounter. Up to four metres in length, these graceful beasts can be hard to spot as they inhabit deep pelagic waters. The diving area is in bottomless blue water well offshore (about one hour's boat ride) and you might also see mako sharks.
You should note: We also offer an 11 day version of this trip (10 days in Azores, plus overnight in Lisbon on outward journey).
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 6 daysfrom £1,495 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 6 daysfrom £1,075 pp
Faial Island is part of the “Central Group” of the Azores archipelago. Just 21km in length, its narrow lanes are lined with colourful hydrangeas and the views from the caldeira – the extinct volcano that created the island – are spectacular. It’s a great place to walk and several routes are waymarked.
Where: Central Islands
Ideal for viewing: bottlenose dolphin, pilot whale, Risso’s dolphin, sperm whale, sei whale
Excellent for: Just Conservation, Whale watching, Dolphin watching
Pico Island, named after the impressive volcano of Pico Alto (2351 metres) that dominates it, is one of the most beautiful of the Azores archipelago. The village of Lages de Pico is worth a visit to learn about the island’s whaling history, otherwise it is a pleasant place for walking or birdwatching.
Ideal for viewing: Sowerby’s beaked whale, spotted dolphin, blue whale, minke whale, orca
Excellent for: Whale watching, Dolphin watching
This four star hotel is conveniently located in the historic port of Horta, the principal city on the island of Faial. Situated just across from the marina from where whale watching excursions start, the hotel has breathtaking views over the bay and the mountain of the neighbouring island of Pico.