Thursday, December 13, 2018

Meteorology in the Azorean Archipelago

Within the ongoing low season training program of Futurismo, on the 6th the and 7th of December 2018 we learnt about climatic variations and meteorology in the Azorean Archipelago, thanks to the Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera (IPMA).

In the first day Fernanda Silva Carvalho taught us about climate variations. She showed us the reference situation of our climate, which is calculated over 30 years, and compared that to the current one, which is totally influenced by anthropogenic activity. She showed us that the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) measured along the years here in the Azores, has been rising progressively. This trend is global and contributes to the global warming rising temperatures, which at local scale will decrease the rain in several places. With the existing anthropogenic pressure, this increase in temperatures will hardly return to their anterior balanced values. Also, we understood that air temperature is not directly dependent on the intensity of the sun rays but instead, on earth’s radiation. Thus, even though the temperatures are not so high outside make sure you protect your skin from the strong UV sun rays, unnoticeable for our body temperature sensors.

In the second day Diamantino Henriques helped us to understand local weather forecast maps. We learnt about the strong influence that the Azores High Pressure has on our local weather (and its sudden changes!) and as well in the entire North Atlantic; as well as the influence of the different types of fronts on the weather charts. He taught us how these forecast maps are created, and explained the different kind of models and limitations that exist to analyse the climatic variables. In the IPMA here in Ponta Delgada, high resolution weather forecast models are run for the Azores. They use parameters such as rain, temperature, wind or atmospheric pressure among others to create regional reliable 48h forecasts. Furthermore, they are the responsible to create the navigation warnings and alerts, considering meteorological and sea conditions. That’s something we really appreciate, because going out to the sea is our daily routine!

Finally, we still got to see the Forecast Station, where they make the predictions for the entire archipelago, beside the University and the Observatório Afonso Chaves.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Sperm whale "Mr. Liable" found!

Today we had a beautiful day with the sun shining above our heads and the atlantic ocean full of life surrounding us!

Common dolphins 

As we made our way up to the common dolphins spotted by the lookout we sighted some dorsal fins emerging from the water. It was a small pod of risso's dolphins swimming near some tradicional squid fishing boats. 

A little bit further east we started seeing the dorsal fins of some dispersed common dolphins and more ahead of them we found the rest of the group, that came to us and stayed bowriding the front of our catamaran all together, letting us see them really well. 

To finish our trip we headed to the area where our spotter sighted a sperm whale. As we arrived there we tried our hydrophone to search for the whale echolocating clicks and so to confirm its presence near us. Finally we saw it's blow and got a little bit closer to see this whale and when it dived to go foraging we were able to recognize that it was Mr.Liable, a resident sperm whale of our waters.

Sperm whale "Mr. Liable" diving

"Mr. Liable blowing"

Risso's dolphin

Our team using the hydrophone

Sperm whale diving

Group of common dolphins

Common dolphins

Time to organize the data

Sperm whale diving

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Common dolphins and spread out Risso's dolphins

Today was a wavy day out on the ocean, aboard two of our zodiac boats. We enjoyed the first part of the morning in the company of a nice group of common dolphins. We got to see them very well as they were surfing the waves and bowriding our boats. 

Next we went towards the east where we found a couple of Risso's dolphins. First we found a juvenile and a bit further out an adult. There were probably more Risso's dolphins around, maybe a bit spread out across a larger area.

Photos by Rui Santos

Common dolphin bowriding next to us

Common dolphins

Common dolphins

Juvenile risso's dolphin

Friday, December 7, 2018

A sunny day with common dolphins

Today we had a sunny day and various small groups of common dolphins with us. 

In the morning these groups weren't far away from shore so our path to meet them was made along the coastline giving us also the opportunity to enjoy and wander through the natural beauty of the island. 

As a curious and playful species, these common dolphins approached the boat to bowride the waves produced by our movement on the water, so we saw them pretty well from close sight as they went along with us for a while. Some of the juveniles in one of the groups found were jumping on their side and splashing against the water.

On both ways we also saw multiple groups of marine birds feeding on the ocean.

Photos by Rui Santos 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

False killer whales along with bottlenose dolphins in the Azores

What a beautiful December morning!

Our trip today was wonderful. We started the day with a huge group of false killer whales! This year we didn't see them a lot, so every time with them is special! Together with them, we spotted bottlenose dolphins. It was possible to see perfectly the differences between the two species swimming one beside the other.

False killer whales are found in tropical to warm temperate waters, but it is not known if they migrate as not much is known about their populations.

In the Azores, false killer whales are sighted occasionally, sometimes with other species such as today with bottlenose dolphins.

We enjoyed it a lot! At the end of our trip, we could still observe a group of common dolphins swimming very fast. Hope for more days like this!!

See also our video filmed today by our biologists! 


Photos by Rafael Martins 

False killer whale leaping

False killer whale

False killer whale

False killer whale calf

Fishing boat

Common dolphin

False killer whale

False killer whales and a calf

Photos by Laura González

False killer whale surface

Observing Common dolphin

False killer whales

False killer whales

False killer whale jumping

Bottlenose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

A lot of dolphins jumping

Today we had a sunny day and a calm sea! 

After traveling a while, our lookout guided us to our first group of dolphins, bottlenose dolphins. 

In the beginning, they were spread out but then they started jumping right in front of us. 

After enjoying this moment we traveled a little bit more to find a group of common dolphins, our second resident species of the trip.

Photos by Laura Gonzalez

Observing bottlenose dolphins

Group of common dolphins with babies

Bottlenose dolphins in group

Beautiful common dolphins

Common dolphins

Observing bottlenose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphin jumping

Common dolphin

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Our staff training safety aboard a catamaran

Today we continued our staff training emergency procedures aboard our catamaran Cetus. 
All crew members had the opportunity to activate the firefighting system and practice using the fire hose. We also went over man overboard procedures and how to launch the life rafts. As it was a sunny and very warm day we also made the most of cleaning and drying out all the onboard emergency life vests. It's always good to be prepared for everything!

Photos by Laura González

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