Did you know the markings on the tails of whales are like fingerprints? Every whale can be uniquely identified this way. This allows them to be counted when seen off our coasts and identified.
A whale can be spotted in the Azores Islands and later found 2,500 km (1,500 mi) away in Newfoundland!
Teams of whale watchers throughout the world contribute to this important data, learning about the patterns and behaviors of the whale population.
For over ten years Futurismo has been at the front lines of this research. During all whale watching tours, our onboard marine biologists note sightings, collect information and scientific data for our research program.
Our land-based coastal lookouts (Vigias) who help guide our boats to the whales also contribute their data to this research.
For you, our guest, it all may look like a whale watching tour, but we’re also adding to the important science of understanding these whales and dolphins. Thank you for helping us support this important research.
COLLECTING SIGHTINGS, DATA & ID PHOTOS
To date, Futurismo Whale Watching has identified over 400 different sperm whalesoff São Miguel Island. How do we do this? We take ID photos, record GPS coordinates, and note environmental behavioral data.
This helps us understand patterns in the whale populations over the years, especially for the sperm whale, which lives here year-round in the Azores. We analyze our photographs for the whales’ unique tail markings, and each is given a unique identifier (and sometimes a name!).
We share our work with noted sperm whale researcher and biologist Lisa Steiner based on the nearby Azores island of Faial. Lisa compares our photos and sightings with others in the North Atlantic and has made important discoveries about the sperm whale movements between the Azores, Madeira Portugal, and Norway.
IT’S LIKE A CENSUS FOR WHALES
We and other researchers across the globe are creating catalogs by whale types and identifying the actual individual whales of the world!
We share our data and photos of the humpback whales with the folks of the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalogue (NAHWC). Forty years ago, their first catalog identified 130 individual whales. Today it lists over 8,000!
We also send our research on blue whales to Dr. Richard Sears of the Mingan Island Cetacean Study who has created the Northeast Atlantic Blue Whale Catalogue (NEA).
All of us working together are learning about the whales’ migration routes, but we still have a long way to go.
TOGETHER WE HELP THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY
When you go on a whale and dolphin watching tour with us, you’ll not only enjoy a unique adventure, you’ll be helping our research on marine life in the Azores.
That’s because we are active in the scientific community. Our biologists have presented research gained through our tours to various conferences such as the European Cetacean Society (ECS) and International Meeting on Marine Research (IMMR).
For us at Futurismo, it is important to stay innovative and up to date with current cetacean research. That is why in December 2019, we sent four of our marine biologists to participate in the most notable forum on this subject – the World Marine Mammal Conference in Barcelona.
Our work has found its way into university programs throughout Europe, including masters and doctoral theses. Our own marine biologists have benefitted from this research on their doctoral dissertations, of which we’re very proud.
So, when you book a tour with Futurismo, you’re not only entering a world of adventure and excitement, you are becoming part of something much greater – a growing movement to better appreciate all the creatures of our planet.
We are committed to responsible practices, and strongly adhere to multiple codes of conduct for Responsible Whale Watching.