The Great Whale Project is primarily focused on assisting a team of biologists collecting photo-identification and ecological data on blue and sperm whales (depending on the time of year) for wider research of whales in the Azores region. You will enjoy regular trips to sea and will be integrated in ALL aspects of the operation daily workload.
By enrolling in this project you will be educated in an informal environment, learning about whale and cetacean biology, whale and dolphin conservation and research techniques. Activities may change from day to day, but depending on the weather, number of client bookings, and abundance of whales, you may take part in the following:
You will spend time aboard the boat monitoring various species of whale and dolphin, gaining experience of field-work and collecting data. You will collect data regarding which species are spotted, their geographic position, behaviour and more. You will also conduct surveys from land look-outs. During this activity, you may encounter humpback whales, blue whales, sperm whales and more!
During this time, you will gain a plethora of knowledge regarding whale conservation, various aspects of marine ecology, the pressures that the Azorean ecosystem faces, and how to identify different species whilst out at sea. You can then use this knowledge to impart to others, so you can continue spreading awareness of the importance of vital whale and dolphin conservation!
This project is a fantastic opportunity to be enriched with new skills you may not otherwise have. Whilst learning about the marine wildlife in this spectacular location, you will also learn basic boat skills and assist with boat duties, such as checks and post-trip cleaning.
Work With Tourists
This activity involves developing the whale watching naturalist skills of other tourists and members of the public. This will expand their education regarding the different whale species that can be found in the area and increases the chance of people wanting to aid their conservation. This is an excellent chance to share your newly acquired marine expertise!
This activity focuses on office-based work where you will be cataloguing and analysing collected data obtained from excursions. Data could include photographs, sound recordings and surveys. You will also assist with the day-to-day operation of our station, including cleaning, taking bookings and assisting guests where needed.
Photo - ID Project
Volunteers will help to photograph species encountered on the boat trips as part of a Photo ID project which contributes to cetacean research being conducted in the North Atlantic. Photos of individuals can be input into the database and enable long-term movements to be traced, population sizes to be estimated and offer an insight into social structures in groups.
Please note that itineraries are subject to change and what follows is simply a guideline.
Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
Upon arrival in Faial, you will be transferred from the airport to your accommodation and get settled in. You will then meet our friendly project facilitators Joana and Tiago and you have a chance to bond with fellow volunteers. Make sure you get a good night's sleep as come the morning your adventures will begin!
Day 2 - 13 - Project Days:
Your time on the project will be spent conducting whale and dolphin photo-identification whilst collecting invaluable research data on sperm whales all year round, and during spring, you will help to collect data regarding fin, blue and sei whales. Additionally, you will be conducting cetacean surveys from land look-outs, and assisting with boat duties. You will also have free time based on your weekly workload.
Day 14 - Final Day:
Unfortunately, today is your last day, and you will head back to the mainland for your connecting flight or commence onwards travel plans. You may not want to leave, but surely one of the best destinations in the world for whale spotting will have provided lifelong memories that you’ll never forget!
Dates, Availability & Price
Although it is possible to join for 6 nights, as the activities taking place are dependent on weather and sea conditions, we recommend taking part for 13 nights or more if possible.
To secure a place on this project a deposit of £195 is required at the time of booking, with the remaining balance due any time up to 60 days prior to your start date.
Select a duration below to see the available start dates. All dates shown are currently available for you to join this project!
Updates & Outcomes
This is a fantastic whale conservation project offering the opportunity for volunteers to experience spectacular volcanic landscapes, friendly people, and of course plenty of whales and dolphins!
The project is run by Joana and Tiago, both marine biologists and conservationists, meaning you'll be in the best possible hands to carry out this integral research. They say:
"Environmental responsibility is a top priority to us. We firmly believe that we must educate, involve, and inspire people about the world's marine ecosystems and their amazing inhabitants, and in this way helping to create a worldwide awareness of whale and dolphin conservation issues."
In 2017, the team and our fantastic volunteers were lucky enough to have encountered orcas, fin whales, manta rays and more! We look forward to what fascinating marine life volunteers will experience in their natural habitat throughout 2018.
By joining this volunteer placement, you are supporting vital cetacean research, data collection and whale conservation efforts within the Azores, which in the long run will help in cetacean research and conservation strategies worldwide.
- posted on Aug 16, 2017
- by Joshua McGill
September 16th marks Coastal Cleanup Day! Today is about exerting a global effort into cleaning up the world's coast in an attempt to reverse the detrimental effect rubbish has on our oceans. It causes ocean pollution, huge issues for the wrold's dazzling marine biodiversity, and in the long run it will effect us. Read on to expand your knwoledge and spread awareness!
Life on the Azores is like nothing you will have experienced anywhere else in the world. This article suggests some incredible hidden features that will make you salivate at the idea of visiting The Atlantic's beautiful island cluster.
What are the most endangered species in the world? The Great Projects are here to inform you of just that in an attempt to spread awareness of the plight of these innocent species. If action is not taken rapidly, we are at risk of losing species that have inhabited the earth for thousands of years. Expand your knowledge and help the circle of life to thrive!
Is this trip for you?
Accommodation during your time here will be a twin shared room in an apartment or a house, just a walking distance from the project site. All accommodation has a kitchen to prepare food for the day, as well as LCD televisions, free WiFi, a washing machine, fresh linen and more. Couples, friends or families volunteering together who would like private accommodation should let us know in advance and our team will be happy to arrange this for you.
Meals and beverages are NOT provided during your time on this project. This is something that will need to be arranged by yourself during your stay here. Groceries can be purchased in the nearby supermarkets, and the one that is the furthest distance from the project site is still just a 10-minute walk away.
This project does not involve much in the way of physical labour, but all volunteers should have a basic level of fitness when taking part. No specific skills or experience are required, just commitment to the project and its aims. You must be prepared to work alongside other members of the team, and to bring an upbeat, positive attitude to the endeavour as a whole.
The vaccinations required will depend on your medical history of each volunteer. We recommend that you consult with your GP regarding your own immunisation needs to ensure that you are fully protected and prepared to travel. In conjunction with this, we would also recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VOLUNTEER?
This project runs between April and July. During these months you will be able to see sperm whales and dolphins, however, there are 2 different seasons that offer additional marine wildlife sighting possibilities.
Spring (April until the end of May) – This season also offers the opportunity for seeing many more species of whale including blue, fin, sei and humpback whales. The daytime temperature in these months averages between 13 and 17°C (55-63°F).
Summer (June - July) – During this season sperm whales are in abundance as it is their peak season and there are also a lot more varieties of dolphins including the Atlantic spotted dolphin. The daytime temperature in these months averages between 21 and 25°C (70-77°F).
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.
If you would like help booking your flights, please visit our flights page and fill out the form. A member of our team will get back in touch as soon as possible with a suitable quote.
Visa requirements in the Azores are the same as for mainland Portugal. Citizens from the UK, the EU, the USA, Canada and Australia are not required to get a visa in advance for stays of up to 90 days. Nationals not referred to here are advised to contact their Portuguese embassy/consulate to check for their visa requirements. Please note that ALL citizens travelling to the Azores are required to have a passport with six months validity.
Currency and Exchange Rates
As the Azores are a part of Portugal, an EU country, the money used here is the Euro. At current, there is roughly 0.88 GBP per Euro, but please bear in mind that exchange rates are subject to change.
What's included in the price of the project?
- Airport transfers
- A donation to the project
- Accommodation (in a twin-shared room in either an apartment or house with a kitchen, and only a short walking distance from the volunteer station)
- Tutoring and all project activities
What's not included?
- Flights (internal and external)
- Food and living expenses
- Any vaccinations