Azores Adventures – Futurismo

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Science & Research

Since the first days, we invest a huge part of our efforts in having professional marine biologists as guides for our Whale Watching tours.
And, as we created a team of highly qualified people, we challenged them to start investigating the species that we proudly find, year after year, on these Azorean waters.
Over 30 years later, we are one of the biggest references for universities and researchers from all over the world when it comes to studying cetaceans.

At Futurismo, we love showing the beauty of our islands to brave travelers, and make them spend amazing holidays seeing wild animals. But we are much more than an adventure company. We think it is very important to help the scientific community as much as we can, for nature's sake.

By joining us on a whale watching tour you are contributing to valuable scientific research that helps us learn more about the cetaceans of the Azores. Data collected by onboard Futurismo's biologists and onshore lookouts are shared with universities and other researchers around the world, contributing to studies that develop policies to better protect whales and the marine environment.

Collecting and sharing data

When we go whale watching, we always are equipped with a GPS. This allows us to write the coordinates where we find the animals to better understand the patterns of whale populations. We also note their behavior, the date when it was seen, the species, and the composition of the group if any. Our database is updated after every trip. 

What do we do with those data? Well, we share them with renowned researchers and biologists around the world to be able to ‘track’ cetaceans in every sea. Namely, we share our data and photos of humpback whales with the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalogue. Forty years ago, their first catalog had about 130 different whales. Today, it lists over 8,000!

Every month, we publish statistics of the sightings we had, with a map to see where we spotted which species. This is really helpful, and fun to observe the difference every month.

Photo ID, a big role in identifying cetaceans

In every sea tour, our marine biologists take their camera. This is for you to keep memories of your experience, but mainly to do research. Indeed, whales and dolphins have marks on their tail or fins, they are like fingerprints. That is how we manage to identify and count them. This information is really important to understand if they are resident or moving across the globe, as we already found matches for whales who were found in the Azores and several years later can be found in another part of the world, thousands of kilometers away. Scientific in the whole planet participate in this identification and share their data with us. By joining one of our tours, you are supporting this important research.

Once we have the pictures, our biologists will analyze them closely and then place the photos of tails and fins in catalogs. Those allow us to understand the different groups of sperm whales, for example. Until 2020, Futurismo has identified over 400 different sperm whales around São Miguel Island, among them, our famous Mr. Liable. More generally, we counted more than 14,000 sightings of 22 different cetacean species. 

It has been now over ten years that Futurismo helps with this kind of research.

Learn more about our cetacean research

Master & PhD thesis

We are lucky to have an international team at Futurismo. People come from all over the world to work with us, and many of them are still studying, preparing their Master's and Ph.D. thesis with us. We give them the chance to go to the ocean with us and collect data for their research project. Some of our research has even been presented at international conferences! Others have also been published in scientific journals. We couldn’t be prouder of our team who earns global recognition over the years. See the list of our publications.

Proud partners with the World Cetacean Alliance

Protecting cetaceans is one of our biggest priorities. That is why we are proud partners with the world’s largest organization fighting for whales and dolphins conservation. Along with other companies and associations around the world, we join forces for the sake of our dear marine life. Recently, they also certified us as an official responsible whale watching company! We are so proud of the hard work we have done since the beginning of our long journey.

Learn more about our partnership with the WCA.

Acting on the international scene

As a company working with nature and wild animals, we must help scientists and researchers to protect our marine friends. So, from time to time, our marine biologists travel across the world to assist and participate in international conferences. Those are big scientific meetings for the conservation of marine life globally, where we learn more about the newest ways to protect the ocean, but also present our ideas and research.

Among the different events where we have been, we can mention the important World Marine Mammal Conference in Barcelona in 2019. It was made of several workshops and lectures. From researches about sperm whale cultures to Risso’s dolphin's behaviors, or environmental DNA, we can say that our biologists were in heaven to be able to discuss such important topics with international scientists.

Another significant event in which Futurismo participated was the World Whale Conference in Australia, also in 2019. We were kindly invited as we are proud partners with the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA), the organizers of this conference. At Futurismo, we believe in responsible whale watching, and this conference was very inspiring to continuously evolve our techniques and approaches during whale watching trips, whilst respecting the animals.

We can also mention the European Cetacean Society in 2018 in Italy, where we presented some of our research works. And there were much more events! We will continue as long as we can, to give importance to science and learn more from others.

Futurismo Connactions

Every year, our Connaction program allows our professional marine biologists and environmental science team to present their work, or a topic they love, to the public. The presentations are at our shop in Ponta Delgada, or they can also be online. We sometimes invite some special guests to present an Azores-related subject.

Connaction is perfect for both locals and visitors to know more about conservation projects or research, on land and at sea. For example, the edible plants on the island, saving birds, how geology influenced Azorean history and people, ongoing research about common dolphins, taking underwater pictures, photo ID, … It can be really anything and attracts curious professionals as well as amateurs. We record it almost every time and put it on the Facebook page for the world to see it.

The conservation of nature is one of the most important values for us as promoters of sustainable tourism, and it has always been part of the talks, full of important information from professionals.

In 2020, our presentations were all online due to the pandemic. We had one about research on humpback whales and why they are present around the Azores. Follow us on Facebook to be aware of the next presentations!

A blog for science lovers

On our blog, we frequently publish scientific articles written by our marine biologists. They can be about anything related to the ocean. For example, an explanation of why we have pilot whales in the Azores, the number of humpback whales identified in our islands, and exciting international whale matches! You can also see some of our ongoing research projects, some of them are Masters and Ph.D. thesis.

If you are a science lover, then go check it out, you will find many resources.

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