Tailing the Great Whales, 21-28 May 2018

Special blue whale week package Book now

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Tailing the Great Whales, 21-28 May 2018

A better understanding of the behaviour, social organisation and migration of the great whales is indispensable to their protection.
A “sustainable” tourist company should create a dedicated place where they can actively participate in research and thus further develop their knowledge… One could actually call it a duty.
Since 1992 the Espaço Talassa team spends over 7 months a year at sea with these animals. A collaboration goes without saying with the MICS team (Mingan Island Cetacean study), based in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, who have been developing research tools (satellite tags, photo ID…) since 1979.
Therefore, after more than 20 years of exchanging information, Richard Sears (the founder of MICS) will be leading an excursion during the migration of the Blue, Bryde, Fin and… humpback whales!
Find more information on MICS and Richard here: www.rorqual.com
  • Welcome and transfers from Faial or Pico airports.
  • 7 nights accommodation with breakfast at ** hotel “Whale’come ao Pico” (double occupancy).
  • 3 days at sea (or half day equivalents, depending on the weather).
  • 1 day exploring Pico’s whaling tradition (São Roque’s whaling station, Calheta de Nesquim’s boathouse, the “Vigia da Queimada” – outlook – and the Whaler’s museum in Lajes).
  • A presentation by Espaço Talassa’s biologist on the ecology and biology of cetaceans.
  • A presentation on the status of MICS’ research, population and migration in the North Atlantic.
  • Two sessions where you’ll learn how to recognise a whale thanks to photo identification.
  • Insurance & whale-watching permit.
The package does not include:
  • Single room sup.: 95€;
  • Sea view sup.: 20€ per person;
  • Picnic or lunch: 8€ per person.
A maximum of 8 participants per excursion.
Espaço Talassa will donate 200€ per participant to MICS which each participant will be asked to pay directly upon settlement of their balance.

By choosing Espaço Talassa, you are choosing to limit your ecological footprint.

  • Espaço Talassa plants trees and contributes to a “micro-reserve” project as compensation for the ecological deficit and the CO2 emissions related to our whale watching activity, in collaboration with association “Quercus”.
  • For each customer €0,50 cents will be donated towards the “Cabeço Santo” (GPS position: 40º31’52″N 8º20’36″W- Google Maps) reforestation project in the mountain range of Caramulo, victim of a terrible forest fire in 2005. Soon the indigenous vegetation will substitute eucalyptus, acacias and other infesters.

It’s true: “the sea is blue because forests are green”!

30 years of experience in the Azorean sea

Our team is highly disciplinary and ethnically rich, being composed of a majority of natives but also Dutch, German, English, French, Brazilian and Spanish…

Undoubtedly one of the 10 best whale watching spots in the world

The Azores, and especially Lajes do Pico, is undoubtedly one of the 10 best whale watching spots in the world, and for sure the best in the Azores. Tourist frequentation is still small, the quantity and diversity of the whales observed is high, there’s little visual pollution and Pico mountain in the background.

Small boats which limit the impact on the animals

Driven by 4 stroke engines: less noise and chemical pollution… “Size matters”!

Small groups, maximum 12 people per boat

It is evidently more human!

Multimedia Briefing

Before each whale watching trip, we give an approximate 30 minute presentation on biology and animal behaviour, the history of whale hunting, ecology, legislation…

Debriefing

After each trip, have a drink and debrief with our specialists on the species observed, your doubts or questions…

Queimada look-out post, an Espaço Talassa exclusive,

A minimum of 2 look-outs direct a maximum of 3 boats. The look-outs locate the animals, and guide the whale watching boats to minimise the negative impact on the animals: manage the number of boats around the same group, manage boat speed and angles of incidence. There is therefore a strong complicity and trust between them and the skippers.

 

Boats equipped with hydrophones

Not only to help locate the animals, but especially to add acoustics to the visual experience

Responsible travel

By choosing to experience whale watching with Espaço Talassa, you are choosing to limit your ecological footprint. Espaço Talassa plants trees and contributes to a “micro-reserve” project as compensation for the ecological deficit and the CO2 emissions related to our whale watching activity. For each customer, approximately €0,50 cents are donated to the Project

Fair trade tourism

Espaço Talassa believes that encountering the cetaceans is educational and should be accessible for the locals: whalers’ children, youngsters, students, underprivileged… “Solidaridade“is a project which allows the inhabitants of Pico, students of any age, youth card holders, and the unemployed to encounter the whales and dolphins which cross south of Lajes do Pico by paying a symbolic sum of 10 €.

Let’s lay our cards on the table:

  • Our whale watching boats are fast and intended for active trips. Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate people with reduced mobility, pregnant women, or anyone with osteoporosis, sciatica, …
  • Comfort on board is basic therefore it’s worth taking some precautions before embarking. The gentlemen’s WC’s are on starboard and the ladies on portside… with breath-taking views of the Atlantic!
  • We put you directly in contact with nature which also can mean rain (sometimes pretty heavy) and the sun…
  • As we believe that swimming with dolphins could be a risky activity for you and overall very intrusive for the animals, we stopped the activity in 2017. To learn more: Why you shouldn’t swim with dolphins

 

Where are the Azores?

Trace a straight line from Lisbon to New York, and in the middle of the Atlantic, you’ll find the archipelago of the Azores. The archipelago is divided into 3 groups, and in the central group, on the southern coast of Pico island, you’ll find Lajes…

Frequently asked questions

  • This is where Europe ends: 38 degrees North and 30 degrees West, some 800 nautical miles from the nearest coast, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The Azoreans, isolated for centuries, have survived on their resources of agriculture, fishing and…. whale hunting. Melville drew inspiration from such odysseys to write his epic tale, “Moby Dick”.
  • For the last 30 years, it has been strictly prohibited to harm cetaceans in the Azores.
  • The sperm whale prefers the south coast of Pico. Here, assisted by Marcel, the Queimada’s lookout, you can observe the whales and get close to them. The ambition of the project goes even further as it includes an introduction into other traces and vestiges of the whaling culture and tradition, of which the people of Lajes are the last witnesses.
  • Last but not least these wildlife observation holidays, which respect both the animals and the local culture, are the natural way for Azoreans to continue to remain involved with whales long after the end of whale hunting in 1984. Whale watching offers an alternative way with whales for the Lajes community, and at the same time is an ideal way to protect the giants of the sea.
  • To have a Wiki-idea about the Azores, please click here

Thanks to our look-out techniques from land, we don’t leave the harbour blindly. Each morning before embarking, a briefing is held during which we take into consideration the observations made by the lookout. The type of cetacean spotted, their groups, their distance from the harbour, the sea conditions, the number of animals in the group, and the absence or presence of smaller whales are all necessary factors in assessing the quality of forthcoming excursions.

See statistics since 1997

28 cetacean species frequent the Azores sea

In the interface of the North Atlantic, between “hot water” and “cold water”, the archipelago is without any doubt one of the best places for cetacean observation in the northern hemisphere. Also, because the islands are far away from the main merchant navy routes, recreational sailing has not yet made the carnage known in Continental Europe, and the large pollution emitters are relatively far off.

List of Cetacean of the Azores