Help to assist a team of marine biologists in important whale and dolphin conservation projects.
Faial Island is one of the best destinations for encountering whales and dolphins in not only the Azores but also in the whole world! Attracted by the deep waters that occur close to shore and the abundance of food, more than 25 species of whales and dolphins are reported to be within the Azores waters - about 30% of all the cetacean species known. Considered a sperm whale “hotspot", it is also on the route of other migrating species, including blue, fin and sei whales!
About the Project
The Great Whale Project combines a touristic whale watching operation with whale and dolphin conservation research, involving guests and volunteers in a philosophy of sustainable, research supportive Eco-tourism. This whale and dolphin conservation project is run by a team of marine biologists who have been conducting whale photo- ID studies in the Azores for over 10 years and focuses mainly on the individual identification of blue and sperm whales. Volunteers will enjoy regular trips to sea and will be integrated in ALL aspects of the duties mentioned below.They will be educated in an informal and casual environment, learning about whale and cetacean biology, conservation strategies and research techniques.
There are two research periods: the spring months are mainly for blue whale research (with fin, sei and sperm whales also passing through), whilst the summer months are focused on the individual recognition of sperm whales – who remain here all year round.
Prior to Arrival
Getting to the Azores will generally require a stopover via Lisbon, from where you can catch an onwards flight direct to Horta on Faial island where you need to arrive between 9 am - 5 pm on your project start date. TAP Air Portugal is usually the best airline for this. Alternatively, you can fly direct to Ponta Delgada, the capital of the Azores, and transfer to Faial using an internal flight. Please note that to get to Horta on Faial island where the project is based, you will need to take an internal flight.
On arrival from your original destination to Faial you will transfer to your accommodation and will get settled in, before meeting project facilitators Joana and Tiago for a welcome dinner.
During your time here, you will be involved in a range of activities every day. You will spend time on the boat photo ID-ing whales and getting experience of field work and collecting research data. You will be conducting cetacean surveys from land look-outs and help in important blue whale research. Doing that, you will gain knowledge and experience on cetacean biology, whale conservation and identification at sea, as well as basic boat skills and boat duties, including boat checks and post-trip cleaning.
Furthermore, you will be conducting office-based work cataloguing and analysing collected data. You will also assist with the day-to-day operation of our station, including cleaning, taking bookings and assisting guests where needed. All these tasks will also help you develop whale watching naturalist skills and help assist in the education of the whale species to tourists on board and the general public.
There will also be time off during the week, where volunteers will be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Faial Island and activities including hiking, scuba diving (there is even a dive with blue sharks) and bird watching.
After saying your goodbyes to everybody, you will head back to the mainland for your connecting flight or commence onwards travel plans.
In your free time you will be able to see and experience the surrounding areas.
Getting to the Azores will require generally require a stopover via Lisbon, from where you can catch an onwards flight direct to Horta on Faial island where you need to arrive between 9 am - 5 pm on your project start date.
Accommodation during your time here will be within a twin shared room in an apartment or a house – only a walking distance from the Dive Azores building from where all volunteer activities will occur. All accommodation options have a kitchen attached where you can cook and prepare all food for the day, as well as all the usual mod cons (LCD Tv's, free WiFi, a washing machine, fresh linen etc.)
Couples, friends or families volunteering together who would like private accommodation should let us know in advance so we can arrange it