In the last few months, these four young people who worked for Futurismo, had the opportunity to learn more about cetaceans, how to do research like photo ID and many other things that will give them a new life experiences. Take a look!
Around a month ago I came back home from my stay on the island of São Miguel, doing an internship at Futurismo and working in the sphere I have always dreamed of working in. During these months I learned so much and living on this beautiful island in the middle of the ocean was one of the best experiences of my life so far.
Even with the pandemic situation, I managed to participate in many activities. I joined the sea team in all their daily tasks, including communicating with tourists, collecting sightings’ data and taking photos for Futurismo’s photo-identification projects. I also tried out the role of a lookout and learned how they carry out this difficult work which is so vital for the whale watching industry of the Azores. It really did have its charm, as in 1 hour of looking through the binoculars I managed to see a breaching sperm whale!
Apart from working on whale watching trips and getting to observe the amazing marine wildlife of the Atlantic ocean, an important part of my work was done after our journeys, on the computer, where I was able to give a hand to research projects which study the local populations of whales and dolphins – animals that are seen around the islands so often but still remain pretty much a mystery. It was rewarding to know that I am putting my grain of sand into finding out something more about these amazing creatures.
In general, I was really happy to work in such a conservation and science focused team, which cares a great deal about the animals. I want to thank everyone at Futurismo for teaching me all that I needed to know and for always being helpful! You have made me even more determined to pursue my dream of working with marine wildlife in the future.
Margarida de Sousa Leal
From this experience, the first word that came to my mind is gratitude. During my master’s degree in marine biology in Algarve, Portugal, I was able to choose an internship abroad. I´ve search for one and I´m so glad I choose to make it in Futurismo in São Miguel, in such a beautiful island. Besides that I was able to work with an amazing team, that teach me and helped me during all the time I was there, and, of course, I enjoy the most being able to see almost every day the dolphins and whale´s species of Azores.
I´ve learned a lot in the field, since the work inside a boat until to know how to register the data of the species of Azores (behavior, reaction, etc) and record their location on the GPS. In land, I dedicate my time especially in one species of whale, the Bryde´s whale (Balaenoptera edeni), in which, for the first time, I worked with photo-identification. The especial interest on this specie was because it is considered rare in Azores and this year there was a lot of sightings of it. On account of that, I had to identify the different individuals seen in 2020 and look for matches from the last years, and consequently, update the Bryde´s whale catalogue.
It is true that the university gives you a good background with a lot of knowledge on the area of study, but just now, after I´ve worked in the field, after doing this internship in Futurismo, I feel more capable of working on Marine Biology. In resume, it was a great experience that someday I would like to repeat.
Futurismo Azores Adventures is a medium size Company that has tried to link the traditional values of the azorean people with the new times, new rules and technological changes that have arrived. Being the biggest whale watching Company in the Azores they have the potential to stablish the difference between a Company based on only economic factors and a really sustainable enterprise, taking care of the island society, the well-being of the company itself and above all the conservation of the natural environment. I think that the biologists’ team in Futurismo is doing a great job, mixing the research work with the divulgation work. They manage to enhance new projects leaded by young students, acting like a connection spot and spreading the word about the importance of oceans’ conservation.
Even though whale watching activities can be stressful and hurtful for cetaceans’ communities I think that the research work that is being developed provides more advantages for the populations than disadvantages. Also, Futurismo’s biologists and skippers are always trying to practice a more responsible way of developing the trips. However, it must be remained in mind that whale watching activities continue supposing, talking strictly in conservation words, an impact to the environment and to the populations, and that every step towards a more sustainable experience should be pursued.
As a personal experience Futurismo has teached me different things:
Firstly, I am much more concerned about the situation that the oceans are living currently, the necessities of the researchers and some ways in which populations and environments can be taken care of by scientists. I am more passionate about conservation fields and I think that this experience has been of great help to know about how an Enterprise works, how do they feel about the nature and how do they work with wild animals.
Secondly, I have acquired new social skills, dealing not only with the guests, but also with the staff of the Enterprise. I enhance my abilities to deal with conflicts or possible problems that might appeared during work. I have also trained my languages skills, talking in English, Spanish or Portuguese. I got better in my ability to divulgate scientific knowledge without sounding annoying or boring.
Thirdly, I have developed my skills in teamworking and specially helping each other with research work. How the research works really outside the University and the importance of contacts and connections inside this world to work in what you love. Also, the necessity to build a path in your own way to follow your interests and to achieve your goals and develop your research.
As summary I have increased my abilities to work in the real world, with other professionals and how to move in the scientific world to achieve your goals. So, I really encourage other students or workers to discover Futurismo and enjoy, as I have done, the jewels that the sea and the research have hidden for you!
What I value the most at Futurismo is that they are not limited to tourism, they also contribute to the scientific community by taking advantage of the sightings made during the whale watching tours. Here, they collect some information that would otherwise be almost impossible since the study of these animals is very limited by the environment in which they live.
My internship has taught me to work outside my comfort zone, I worked with people from other countries who speak other languages and it has helped me to improve my English skills and I have also learned Portuguese.
On the other hand, I have discovered what it means and what it entails to work in a whale watching company, it was a professional opportunity that attracted me a lot before starting the internship. I think it is good to combine tourism and scientific research as they do in Futurismo.
When I arrived at the island, I did not know what I would learn during my internship and in fact I learned more things than expected. First of all, I learned how to work on a vessel, how to identify cetaceans at sea and identify every species, I also worked as a guide onboard explaining to the clients characteristics about every species sighted, the need to protect those animals and the scientific projects. What I found very useful is learning how to record the sightings made using the GPS and information about behaviour, reaction… and how to work with the data once on land, it’s very useful! I’ve also learned how to photo-ID cetaceans, which parts of the animal are useful and how to take photos of them. It’s very satisfying to see that a dolphin that you have seen today it was already recorded years ago!
Futurismo will always be here, ready to receive young students so that together we can do more for the preservation and conservation of nature!