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|It was not so long ago, up to 1987, that whales were hunted in the waters
around the Azores. One of the main whaling stations in the Azores was at Lajes
on Pico Island. Now Lajes village is one of the best bases for whale watching.
The lookout point at Queimada was once used to locate and direct boats to the
whales in order to hunt and kill them, now it is used to find them in order to
photograph, study them or just view them.|
19 different species of cetaceans (mammals that include whales and dolphins) have been observed here including the giant sperm whale. Though the whale population is recovering it is now threatened by pollution. Overfishing is also a major threat to marine life though this has less impact on the whale population.
There is a strict code adopted by the whale watching boats in the Azores. These include keeping at least 50 metres from the whales, not encircling them, limiting the number of viewing boats and limiting the length of time any animal is viewed. Whale viewing generally involves a half hour briefing followed by a three hour boat excursion with a 98% chance of a succesful viewing.
Whale watching is included in our scheduled 9 day treks: Sao Jorge, Faial & Pico ascent and Sao Miguel. Although whale hunting is banned (and rightly so) it must be remembered that many people alive to this day were involved in this hard and dangerous occupation. Nevertheless it is strongly advised not to buy any articles made of whale ivory which are still available for sale on the islands.
The best locations for whale viewing are at Lajes on Pico and at Horta on Faial. It is also possible to organise whale watching on Sao Miguel. Generally the season for watching is between April and October.
On Pico it is also possible to organise dolphin watching trips and for good swimmers swimming with dolphins. There is a 7 day package available which include 5 days of swimming with dolphins Enquire.