Futurismo’s biologists took the chance to discover the ocean surface and below on an almost windless day with perfect conditions to do research. Equipped with cameras, GPS, hydrophones, recorder and sample nets we started our mission. The aim was to collect more data material for our future studies as it is so much planned and on its way.
We were all excited about being on the water for an extended tour where we could enjoy the beauty of nature in a harmonious and happy environment. Enthusiasm was felt which showed that our team is there with heart and soul and can’t get enough of this marvellous experiences which our job is offering us.
As we glided over a crystal clear, calm and smooth water mass, we met a lot of Cory’s Shearwaters which did not leave yet and as well plenty of Great Shearwaters which are coming through this territory on their way to Tristan da Cunha to spend our winter in the south. Also the presence of Portuguese man of war was abundant. A colony of organisms which have been reported through the whole year but it is not always as easy to spot them as with a flat ocean surface and sunlight to shine a spotlight on their transparent bodies.
After photoiding the few Bottlenose Dolphins close to shore from both sides we headed further out to two subgroups of Common Dolphins which showed as much interest in us as we in them. While we gazed at their individual colourful designs we kept busy taking data, pictures and sound samples. We recorded whistles, squeaks, echolocation and different types of moans. Sometimes it sounded as they imitate seals or parts of humpback whale themes of their complex songs. They filled the ocean with sound which can be heard over a big distance what we confirmed later when we tested the equipment when there were no cetaceans in sight but we recorded them also then.
Far off shore with a full view over the round 65km length of the whole volcanic landmass of São Miguel we followed the sound track of a Sperm Whale male. With the directional hydrophone, we detected the clicks only in a certain angle when the whale was further away and the loudest sound of the animal kingdom is intenser the closer you are. When we knew that we were relatively close by we also started recording with the other hydrophone which captures 360° degrees. We witnessed how his regular slow clicks sped up and occasionally ended in silence after a buzz. This is how this whale is able to find its prey in an area of 1500 m depth down below, somewhere in this pitch dark environment in his dives which lasted a bit over an hour each. Thanks to this recordings hopefully soon it will be possible to estimate the length of this male. In a visualisation of the sound sample we can look at the peaks like in a electrocardiogram. As some of the sound waves travel back and hit against the cranium which looks in a sperm whale like a satellite dish we get an extra peak. With a formula the sperm whales size can me estimated because the head makes up a third of its length. So we will let you know when we got the measurements of this male which we named Mr. November. He was a new sight in the waters around São Miguel which we checked on our catalogue of around 500 individuals and none looks even similar than this well marked and vastly pigmented bull.
This expedition today was only a training and a checking out of the equipment but it was not the first and won’t be by far the last sample taking as these studies are of immense value to learn more about the different indivuals and populations. Hopefully we can use all this knowledge to help to protect them and its environment and with that finally us all because we are depending much more on their well being then the other way round. Every one on board could definitely feel the deep connection that’s why we put our heart blood in this.
We dedicate with pleasure our attention on all this details we came across like the dead deep sea fish which seems to be a species of the grenadiers or the young Loggerhead Turtle basking at the surface or the tiny pilot fish sheltering under a floating plastic canister and different species of tiny crabs, which will hopefully find a natural home as we took the waste out of the ocean. Follow our updates and discover a variety of information under futurismo.pt where there will be continuously more.