[MARMAM] Opportunity to work on sperm whale's photo-identification in Pico Island, Azores

susana simiao biomaruka_ss at hotmail.com
Fri Jun 3 15:26:31 PDT 2016

Espaço Talassa Photo-Identification Project

Our Espaço Talassa Photo-Identification data base of sperm whale's fluke is the result of eight years' work taking pictures of flukes. These fluke pictures show signs of the bearer's hardships such as encounters with predators, driftnets, propellers and the mere act of swimming worn off the fluke of the animals. Continued observation of the thus identified individuals let us take part in their success as mothers (e. g. presence of calves) and as a group of a closely knitted family. A sperm whale lives a long life; most of it, hidden under the ever changing surface of the ocean. To fully understand the cetacean's world, we would have to be able to follow them into the abyss and on their, sometimes, long migrations.

Photo Id does not or little interfere with the object in front of the camera; but the photos taken play an important role in the understanding of the puzzle which is the blue picture, our planet, seen from above. We mainly work as a marine tourism company and our aim is to show the cetaceans in their natural environment going on with their lives when we approach them.

"What a Fluke!" is a project that enables interested, scientifically driven participants to contribute in the process, by assisting our biologists Susana Simião and Rui Santos in organizing our photo catalogue, as well as in completing it. Hopefully by comparing your photos with those in our catalogue we will be able to identify new animals, discover new groups and better understand their social interactions. Moreover, without doubt, the week will enable us to understand the animal's way of life, and better understating them will help us to protect them more efficiently.

This opportunity is open to everyone who would like to come to Pico Island, Azores Archipelago for one week and learn more about sperm whales and how to do research on these animals.


We are accepting applications for:

1st week: September 24th and October 1st 2016

2nd week: June 17th to June 24th 2017.

8 days package (Prices include):

* In & Outbound transfers from Faial or Pico airport/hotel Lages do Pico;

* 7 nights at our "Whale'come ao Pico"** hotel, half board;

* 1 full day Pico Island tour to visit: the Queimada lookout post, the boat house of Calheta de Nesquim, the whaling station of São Roque and the squid and sperm whale museum in Madalena;

* 3 sea expeditions (6 hours), depending on weather conditions;

* 1 informative briefing on the biology and ecology of cetaceans;

* 1 session on sperm whales: their behaviour, social structure, acoustics...;

* Photo ID sessions (2hours) after each sea expedition: work and analyse the pictures taken daily, and update the online photo ID catalogue;

* 1 photo ID session on why and how to recognise and match individual animals;

* Government taxes and "whale and dolphin" observation permit included.


Participants are required to bring their own laptop and digital camera.

Extras: Sea view room supplement: 20EUR. Single room supplement: 95EUR. Lunch picnic: 8EUR.

Maximum participants per week: 12 people.


749EUR. (students with a valid student card can get a 5% discount)


Please contact Serge Vialelle at espacotalassa at espacotalassa.com for further details and informations.

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