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  • Fadia Al Abbar

Preparation month

Updated: Jul 7, 2022

Arrival in PDL, Azores, 11:30pm, May 29, 2022. Hours of delay: 29. Prior to our arrival in the Azores we had to go through some hurdles. We left our home countries, and had a pit-stop in Spain. Up until then everything went well. We mapped the natural and man-made habitats of amphibians in the Sierra Nevada region, for the PhD of Sterrin's Wild World. This, too, went very smooth, until we arrived at Malaga airport. The door of the plane could not close, so we were a lot..... But this came at a nice surprise, as we spent one night in a 4 star hotel, all inclusive, on the costs of TAP Air in Malaga, Spain. Many thanks to TAP for giving us a nice holiday day with a pool in 32 degrees! We appreciated it because, once we arrived in the Azores, we were surprised with slightly cold weather (16 degrees)! We started our preparations right away and reconnected with our collaborators Terra Azul, Picos de Aventura, Terra do Pico, and our boat rental place. All was set to go!

New team members!

We also started our season with new additions to our field-crew.

Meet Anne Lodder and Maria Rosas Corona Fernanda. They are Msc. students doing their theses with Azores delphis project, both from Wageningen University! For the fieldwork, they will be leading the land-based project, and test some methods. Second of all, we are working together with the students of MONICET, led by our team-member Laura Gonzalez Garcia who study at the University of the Azores. Margerida Rolim has committed herself to the lad-based team. Say hi to our new team members!

Land based observations

We had some time to prepare the land-team for their leadership on land and the roles have been defined: Left: Margarida observes the dolphins' behaviour from land using military binoculars. Middle: Maria tracks the dolphins from land by using a theodolite, a device that can give accurate positions of the dolphins. Right: Anne is the datasheet developer and manages the data input that are given by Margarida and Maria. Additionally, the team will be keeping an eye out for different groups of dolphins to give us an idea of what's out there at sea! We had a trip at sea and the girls ROCKED IT! They have found dolphins on their own, without the help of the look-out, and they even managed to direct our boat to the dolphins!

Not 1, but 2 drones!

This year our co-founder Lorenzo Fiori will be helping us full time as a drone pilot and project manager. This gives us new opportunities....2 drone pilots (Lorenzo & Fadia)....combined with our main full-time skipper Nuno, we will fly with 2 drones! On our first trip, we managed, with a complicated group of common dolphins! (look at how many dolphins there are, the group was endless!)

New Collaboration on Sperm whales!

Do you remember our second drone pilot Sean O'Callaghan from last year? We have

exciting news from his side! Sean has started his PhD on the sperm whale life history of the Atlantic! We will be helping him collect data from the Azores with our drone set-up! Read more about his PhD project and follow him on instagram and twitter! We are hoping for his return this year, fingers crossed!

World Cetacean Alliance collaboration!

A couple of months ago Azores delphis project has become an official collaborator of the

World Cetacean Alliance! The WCA is an NGO dedicated to the protection of cetaceans

worldwide. The WCA's work includes partnering with and certifying responsible whale and dolphin watching companies to improve cetacean welfare in tourism. The WCA is currently working on Whale heritage sites, and the Azores are a candidate!

How has the weather been?

The end of May, and pretty much all of June have been rather strange months. We had a continuous Northerly wind . It was cold (see picture below). It is still kind of cold (4th of July). Plus, we rarely had good enough weather days to go to the sea. So we do not know what is going on, but we are going with the flow! The good news is that it gave us more preparation time, data management and protocol perfecting time, and we had more time to do land-based observations with Anne and Maria and get that set-up rolling, since we can operate from land in slightly less ideal conditions. So, the slightly bad weather always allows us to prepare other things!

Meet the main team, from left to right: Laura Gonzalez: co-founder and advisor, Nuno Pimentel main skipper, Fadia Al Abbar co-founder and research project leader. Front of the boat: Lorenzo Fiori co-founder, drone operator and advisor, and now manager!

June was still partly funded by Stichting Lucie Burgers.

From July onward, we will be funded by KNAW Ecology

Author: Fadia Al Abbar


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