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 on the boat photo ID-ing whales, getting the experience of field work and collecting research data. The whale belongs to the group of cetacean mammals that inhabit the planet, also including dolphins and porpoises. You will be conducting cetacean surveys from land look-outs and will be helping in fascinating and profound whale research. During this paramount activity, you may encounter humpback whales, blue whales, (which is in fact, the biggest animal on earth!) sperm whales and more!
This part of the project provides you with knowledge and experience on cetacean biology, whale conservation and identifying these gracious mammals at sea. The indescribable moment when a huge humpback whale breaches out of the sea whilst you sit in a boat just a short distance away, will stay with you forever. The wildlife diversity in this region is simply incredible, so do not be surprised if you catch a sight of bottlenose and Risso Dolphins too!
This project is a great opportunity to be enriched with new skills you may never have gained otherwise. Whilst learning about the marine wildlife in this spectacular location, you can learn basic boat skills and assist with boat duties, such as boat checks and post-trip cleaning. By gaining new skills, not only are you helping the whales in their conservation, but you are potentially opening up new opportunities for yourself in the future as a result of everything you have learned.
Work with tourists
This 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 help them, and knowing how to do so. You can further increase your whale knowledge, and show off your newly obtained whale 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.
The diverse range of wildlife encounters you could experience on this project is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It is not every day that you are in the Azores Islands, watching up to 30% of all of the cetacean species known around the globe in just one destination. Practice your photography skills, and grasp the opportunity for phenomenal pictures that you can keep forever, share across your social platforms and make everyone else back home jealous!
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 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 the beautiful marine mammals, but surely one of the best destinations in the world for whale spotting will have provided some pristine images that will permanently hold your incredible experiences!
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."
So far in 2017, the team have encountered orcas, fin whales, manta rays and more!
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 so we can arrange it.
All meals (except for the welcome and farewell dinners) 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?
The best time to volunteer on this project is between April and August. During these months you will be able to see sperm whales and dolphins, however, the 2 seasons that this period of time includes also 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 the blue, fin, sei and humpback whales. The daytime temperature in these months averages between 13 and 17°C (55-63°F).
Summer (June until September) – 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 (on a twin shared room in an apartment or house with a kitchen and only a short walking distance from our station)
- Tutoring and all project activities
What's not included?
- Flights (internal and external)
- Food and living expenses
- Travel insurance (though this can be provided by us here at The Great Projects at an extra cost)
- Any vaccinations.