Marine Conservation in the Azores

The Azores are a remote archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, about 1,360 km west of Portugal. The islands are some of the most remote in the world, and are a hotspot for biodiversity. Teeming with life both on land and underwater, this is an ecologist’s dream destination. There are about 900,000 square km of marine reserves in the archipelago, and it is well-known for its resident and migratory whale populations

Attracted by the deep waters that occur close to shore and an abundance of food, more than 25 species of whales and dolphins are reported to the Azorean waters: about 30% of all the known cetacean species.

Dive Azores has a long history of environmental action , primarily focused on shark and cetacean research. Since 2020 Conservation Diver Board member George Bevan has been collaborating with the Tiago Castro and Joana Vaz Pereira from Dive Azores on Faial island to bring Conservation Diver Certification courses to the island in hope of developing more research-led scientific tourism to the region.

The new Conservation Diver center in the Azores will be offering the newly developed whale monitoring and conservation programs as well as further courses developed especially for the region.

What We Offer

Our flagship whale research program is at Dive Azores on Faial Island in the Azores Archipelago. Here we have two courses available:

Whale Conservationist

Duration      1 day

Excursions   1 boat field trips

Academic    1 lecture, e-Learning

Price             €120.00

This course is aimed at whale enthusiasts and conservationists who are interesting in getting more out of whale watching by gaining a greater understand about whale identification and worldwide conservation and research initiatives. This is the first step in understanding the work of marine biologists and will introduce you the skills required to gather photographic and field data.

You will also learn about the culture, life history and ecology of whales as well as what makes the Azores such a hotspot for observations.

Whale Research Assistant course

Duration      14 days+

Excursions   Minimum of 8 boat field trips

Academic     6 lectures, e-Learning

Price             €700.00 – extra week supplement €250.00

This course is designed for whale enthusiasts and those looking to pursue a career in whale conservation or academic study. It forms part of an immersive internship where you will obtain the skills required to assist a researcher on an observation vessel and to conduct scientific research in the field.

Your training will equip you with the ability to identify different whales and dolphins around the Azores, take scientifically significant photos to be used as part of population and migration studies and monitor behavioral data points to produce fully formed scientific outputs. You will learn to collate data in localized catalogues and how to partake in global citizen science databases.

For the duration of the course you will be part of the research team and be involved in an array of different activities that support operations for a whale research station and scientific tourism initiative. Upon completion of this course, students can actively partake is citizen science data collection for cetaceans all over the world and will be certified as a valuable assistant to cetacean researchers

Why take these courses?

By increasing awareness and involvement, we can decrease our impact on the oceans and whale society and help to provide solutions to protect and restore population in the Azores Archipelago region and around the world. The most successful projects to conserve the worlds oceans have stemmed from passionate individuals and action orientated groups and communities, not governments or policy makers. We hope to continue in this tradition and do what we can to protect the environment we live in and are part of.

Funds raised from this course will also help support the ‘Whales Project Azores’ a program run by marine biologists who have been conducting whale photo ID studies in Azores for over 15 years, which focuses mainly on the individual identification of blue (Balaenoptera musculus) and sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus). This project runs all year round and so funds made during high season can be used to complete monitoring excursions even when there isn’t tourism, so that we can have the most complete and useful monitoring data as possible.

When To Come

Whale Research Season is March-September of each year. Diving courses will be offered June-September

Book a Course

To get more information about this program you can contact Tiago Castro at