Dive Azores undertakes research projects which contribute to our knowledge and conservation of Azores marine life, through the collection of field data in our eco-tourism trips. We are also committed to increase awareness on the importance of conservation of marine ecosystems and its inhabitants, by educating and inviting our guests to join us in our research and eco-friendly actions.
Debilitated turtles found at sea are rescued and released or rehabilitated, depending on their overall condition.
Of the eight species of sea turtles, five are found in Azorean waters: loggerhead , green, hawksbill, leatherback and Lepidochelys kempiiAll species are merely visitors of Azorean waters, with no recorded evidence of nesting and mating while in our waters. So if they don’t nest in our shores, where do they come from?
- Genetic studies demonstrated that 90% of the loggerheads found in the Azores originated from nesting sites in Florida and South Carolina and 10% from Yucatán (Mexico), while there were none that had hatched at nesting beaches situated in the South Atlantic.
-They can be carried around this current system for up to ten years before returning to their nesting beach in the western Atlantic. They will then find a suitable foraging ground at some distance from their original nesting beach and they will grow into maturity (loggerheads reach sexual maturity at around 35 years of age). At this time they will mate and females swim towards their nesting beach to lay their eggs, where they themselves hatched 15-40 years ago.
The turtles occurring in the Azores are loggerhead, leatherback and green turtles. Adult loggerhead turtles live a benthic life along the Florida coast. Juvenile turtles are transported by the north Atlantic gyre current and live a pelagic life for about 10 years in the Eastern Atlantic, including around the Azores, where they appear to feed mainly on jellyfish.
-Each season our marine biologists collect valuable data on the cetaceans sighted during our whale watch trips -we record all cetacean sightings, their geographic position, behaviour, individuals present, sea surface water temperature, etc. In addition, we collect photo-ID data on sperm whales, Risso’s and bottlenose dolphins. An important aim of this work is to contribute to the cetacean research that is being undertaken in the north Atlantic.
All dolphins are different and most can be recognised from photographs showing natural markings, such as distinctive dorsal fin shape with scars, nicks and colour patterns.
Photo-ID studies on sperm whales in the North Atlantic started in 1987 in the Azores and Norway. In 1995, it was recognised that a unified catalogue of images was necessary to provide a larger, oceanic scale database – the North Atlantic & Mediterranean Sperm Whale Catalog (NAMSC). With individuals identified, long-distance movements can be traced, population sizes estimated and social structure unraveled.
Sperm whales can be individually recognised from the trailing edges of their flukes (tail). Colocar como legenda foto!
Anyone can collect useful photo-ID images so long as they have some basic photographic equipment and can get reasonably close to the animals. Any camera will do, but best is a digital reflex with a zoom telephoto lens (preferably around 75-300 mm).
Taking pictures – Sperm whales raise their flukes every time before a deep dive. The usual practice is to photograph the flukes as they are lifted out of the water, trying to capture them at their most vertical.
For dolphins, it is important that the animal is side on, as parallel to the photographer as possible. Pictures from above (when the dolphins are very close to the boat or bow-riding) are of less use for photo-ID work. The sun should be ideally behind the photographer so that more subtle markings can show up.
You can contribute to our photo identification catalogues by sending us your own images! (please add the date, time and approximate location for each picture)Life Project
The field data for this project is obtained during our dives. We record information on the species sighted and keep a log of environmental data for each dive. The data recorded is used to study the occurrence, abundance and behaviour of fish and invertebrate species at the various dive sites throughout the diving season and in different years. Observations such as spawning aggregations, pelagic action, and unusual encounters - can provide both scientific knowledge and great diving opportunities.
Find out how you can get involved!
- GET INVOLVED Enjoy your holidays, gain knowledge and make a positive difference!