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Join a research team in the Azores on their study of sperm whales and bottlenose dolphins, to support the future conservation of these species. There is also an opportunity to dive with blue sharks.

Conservation scope

Study the sperm whale’s ecology, population, habitat and behaviour, and compare historical data trends as they migrate north via the Azores in an effort to address future conservation issues.

Conservation role: Field learner

  • Lectures and workshops
  • Field observation and light general research tasks

Physical demand: Gentle

  • Generally easy and comfortable trip
  • Easily accessible with low involvement and gentle pace
  • Suitable for everyone

How you can help

Uncover the mysteries of the sperm whale

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:

  • Photo-identification
  • Behavioural observations
  • Acoustic recordings
  • Locating position

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.

Note: Depending on flight schedules, some departure dates may require an overnight in Lisbon on the outward journey (additional cost)

You should note: We also offer an 11 day version of this trip (10 days in Azores, plus overnight in Lisbon on outward journey). * Baleen Whale Special: these departures dedicate time to look for these amazing creatures as they travel through the Azores from March to May, feasting on bait fish and krill, en route to their feeding grounds further north.

Key info

  • Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 7 or 11 days from £1,395 pp
  • Single supplement: From £110
  • Group size: 12
  • Departures: View all departure dates
  • Included in the price/package:
    • 5 nights hotel accommodation (twin share)
    • All meals when at sea; breakfast when on shore
    • 3 full days whale & dolphin studying
    • Transfers from/to Horta airport
  • Accommodation: Hotel
Featured location:

Pico

Home to Pico Volcano, the highest point in the Azores, Pico Island is also known for whale watching. Diving here is spectacular, with magnificent topography and plentiful pelagic species. From here you can also dive with the mantas of Princess Alice Bank.

  • Ideal for viewing: blue shark, devil ray, humpback whale, manta ray, Atlantic stingray
  • Excellent for: Resort based diving, Group diving, Shark diving, Manta ray, Whales