Responsible tourism: Whale conservation in the Azores
As avid marine conservationists, the facilitators on this project, Joana and Tiago, are completely dedicated to the cause and to them, the conservation and data collection of a wealth of cetacean species (including sperm, blue, sei, and fin whales and a wealth of dolphin species) is a top priority. Here follows a few words from them and their team:
"We pride ourselves on providing our guests with highly personalised and professional service. 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 ocean conservation issues."
By joining this volunteer placement, you are supporting vital cetacean research, data collection and conservation efforts within the islands of the Azores, which in the long run will be of significant help in cetacean research and conservation strategies across the globe.
The project also pledges an emphasis on environmental responsibility, with Joana and Tiago promising that:
- We re-use all our plastic drinking cups. - We recycle all our waste; guests are informed and invited to do the same. - We avoid using paper as much as we can; when really necessary, we use recycled paper. - We refrain from using plastic bags. The plastic in our oceans is killing 100,000 sea turtles and other marine mammals each year. - We adhere to slower cruise speeds that are more environmentally-friendly and reduce our carbon footprint. - Our boats and office are cleaned with biodegradable soap. - We have a strict cigarette butts policy: cigarette butts are not biodegradable and impose serious threats to marine life and increase water pollution - never discard them on the ground or to the sea! A proper receptacle outside our office is to be used by smokers. - We organise annually underwater cleanups and remove trash from the sea in all our trips.
This project is run in association with 'Dive Azores', a local scuba diving company which offers scuba diving expeditions, whale watching boat tours, diving with blue sharks and snorkelling with wild pods of dolphins.
Owners Joana and Tiago are both avid marine biologists and conservationists, and their passion not only lies in whale and dolphin conservation, but also in working within the local community of Horta in Faial Island. Local conservation and animal welfare initiatives are wholeheartedly supported by the 'Dive Azores' team, and local restaurants and shops in Horta are promoted by the team, which in turn helps to create successful and long-lasting relationships between tourists and the local community.
Emphasis here is also on the marine education of both tourists and locals alike - letting them know about the importance of whale and cetacean research and conservation, as well as the need for sustainable practices with regards to fishing, sailing, and keeping both the ocean and beaches clean and rubbish free.