Espaco Talassa’s association

Since 1996, Espaço Talassa has reserved 2% of its profits for in-service training for its team, as well as for a variety of different projects connected with education and research. This non-profit organization is being created partly in response to increasingly important needs in the Azores Archipelago, and partly to clarify relations between the commercial sector and the different projects which have been proposed. The Foundation’s purpose is to respond to 3 main objectives: protection of the environment, education and research. To pursue these objectives, the organization is able to accept private donations, patronage, sponsorships and grants, and it redistributes these funds amongst local projects which have been approved by its directorate. The organization’s first patron is naturally Espaço Talassa which donates a percentage of its profits.


  • Our specialized library, book publishing, CD, videos, etc. is now available.
  • Educational briefing before any sea journey
  • Programs for school groups as part of educational projects with primary and secondary schools.
  • Drawing and picture contests.



The RACA, the "Network for the study of the stranded cetaceans of the Azores", was founded in 1999. This network gathering volunteers from all the islands of the archipelago has been placed under the responsibility of the Environment Secretary and the Department of Nature Protection. The University of the Azores has been also taking part in this project for São Miguel, Terceira and Faial Islands, and Espaço Talassa is the "operational center" for Pico Island. The stranding of whales, conveyed by the media, often has a great impact on the population. Carrying out a systematic collecting scientific data on strandings (date, species, sex, size, etc.) is significant in order to have a better knowledge of the marine world of the Azores but also of the whole world’s. Both permanent training of all the volunteers of this network and field initiatives help to have an answer adapted to any situation.
Delphinus delphis, Physeter macrocephalus, Mesoplodon sp.
Delphinus delphis, Physeter macrocephalus, Mesoplodon sp.

The main objectives of the RACA network are :

  • Minimizing the risks for both public health and security
  • Minimizing the suffering of living stranded animals
  • Collecting as many information as possible about stranding animals for a "scientific" or educational purpose
  • Drawing up a data base allowing to determine the evolution and the causes of mortality on a long-term basis.
  • Detecting the levels of contaminants and any other variant used as health indicators for both coastal populations and ecosystems.
Physeter Macrocephalus
Physeter Macrocephalus
Delphinus delphis
Delphinus delphis
Phoca sp.
Phoca sp.
Ficha de registo
Ficha de registo

Why this study ?

These whales are, in the end of this century, still a mistery to us, due to the absence of information about them. These species are extremely difficult to observe and to study and simple questions still have no answers:
  • How many calves do they have?
  • How much time do they spend diving to feed?
  • How long do they nurse their calves?
  • How do they communicate?
In the Azores 25 species of cetacean occur regularly making this region one of the best places in the world to observe these animals, regarding the quantity and the quality of the experience. From this total of 25 species, 10 are dolphins, 7 are baleen whales, 3 toothed whales and 5 are beaked whales. The Ziphidae family (beaked whales) two species will be targeted during this study, Mesoplodon bidens and Hyperoodon ampullatus. To gather these information it is necessary to accomplish visual transects, using teodolith and binoculars, in 3 of our look-outs, as well as photo-identification and sampling for genetic analysis, from our boats. Data gathering will take place during the next 4 years. The statistical analysis and publication of the information will take 1 more years making a total period of 5 years to accomplish the entire project.

Main aims of present study :

This scientific study has as a first priori to determine the presence of the following 5 species in the south of Pico: Sowerby's beaked whale (mesoplodon bidens), Gervai's beaked whale (mesoplodon europaeus), True's beaked whale (Mesoplodon mirus), Cuvier' s beaked whale (ziphius cavirostris), Northern bottlenose whale (hyperoodon ampullatus) and their populations level. In a second phase the project will focus on the social structure of 2 species: Sowerby's beaked whale, (mesoplodon bidens) and Northern bottlenose whale (hyperoodon ampullatus).

Where will the study take place ?

The study will take place in the south of Pico, in the Azores Archipelago. This Archipelago is located in the North Atlantic and it is composed by 9 islands between parallels 37° - 40° N of latitude and 25°- 32°W of longitude.

What has already been done :

Espaço Talassa team is already motivated and involved in this project and to demonstrate that information collection already started. During 6 months (April-October) information of Sowerby's beaked whale and Northern bottlenose whale were collected from the look-outs, with binoculars STEINER 15*80, on a daily basis between 09.00 and 19.00. We should mention the fact that the observation from the boats was performed during the same period of the day, registering occurrence and sightings location together with unique images of Sowerby's beaked whale and notes on the behaviour of these magnificent. Besides these 2 species (Mesoplodon bidens and Hyperoodon ampullatus) 2 others were registered Mesoplodon europaeus and Ziphius cavirostris, missing confirmation of a single specie, Mesoplodon mirus.

July, 14th 2002. On board the Bernadette :

Capture, taxonomy and tagging of a Caretta caretta turtle. Quaresma e la caretta...
Like our fingerprints, the scars observed on the dorsal fin of the Risso dolphin (Grampus griseus) or the outline of the sperm whale’s caudal fin (Physeter macrocephalus) are specific to any individual, and this is how we are able to identify the animals. By comparing the pictures taken at sea, is it possible to know more about the animals we observe.On your return from your trip, please send us your own pictures (giving dates and locations) so as to enrich our catalogues of identification pictures. Those pictures will be added to the catalogue of Europhlukes organization, a EU project whose purpose is to centralise information and create a database. For more information about this project:

a couple of Risso dolphins (Grampus griseus) :

a couple of spermwhale (Physeter macrocephalus) :

"Perneta" (Physeter macrocephalus)

And "Perneta", easy to recognize….the first sighting dates back to 1996. Ever since, this animal, now our mascot, has been frequently sighted near São Miguel, Faial and Pico.