The Whale-Watching Web: Açores


A Working Plan for a Whale-watching in São Miguel, Açores


A scientific and commercial whale-watching need their infrastructures. Both of these components should work under same roof thus supporting each other.
[That may be right but funding and rules of running each are very different: How secure that funds indirectly or directly are not 'appropriated' by the other part? Will be a good question by acountants and administers.]
There are successful examples of this co-operation in Lofoten of Norway, in Muroran of Japan and of course in USA, where this unification has grown into oceanographic science centrums. This is also in accordance with EU's science policy.
[There are no state/EU money involved in the scientific aspect in Lofoten, only NGO money and perhaps a little university funding of individual scientists, but not the project as such.]
Similar development is possible in Azores.

Scientific network

Sperm whales are the most unknown species of cetaceans. The Capelas whale observation centrum would be one of the main stations in Southern North Atlantic network dedicated to study the behaviour of this cetacean. The network extends from Canary Island and follows the still unknown migration route of sperm whales up to Lofoten Archipelago in Norway.

Whale-watching as a commercial product

Tourist agencies in Europe and in USA/Canada already have a product called Azores. When whale- watching develops is Azores Archipelago it brings added value to their product. In consequence, their marketing vehicle is ready to start marketing with this new information. The Azorean whale-watching companies must provide detailed information for this marketing vehicle. [This information will be provided only when the product is in a good selling condition].

Target customers

Potential customers (=tourists) are people, who are looking for something else than a mere sunshine.
[With a view to the customers in Lofoten and what is currently happening in Iceland: all European tourists from whom whale watching is a new thing, will take it as a bonus on their visit, families will enjoy immensly, but the more demanding educated and to-come dedicated whale watchers will require special treatment. One needs good more general guiding/info for the general public ('average tourist') and special guiding/info for the others].
This means: The whale-watching station must have a lot of excellent information. This information must have the following contents: - the history of Azorean whaling. - the biology of a sperm whale, dolphins etc. - commercial items must be available, but in high quality.


Upto now 20.7.1996 we have initial "Letter of Intent"-type of confirmation with several scientific and commercial organisations:


The Agorean government plans to acquire the land and buildings of a whaling station in Capelas, Sco Miguel. There is also a ship, which is the last example of traditional Azorean ship building technique. It is designed by famous Picoan Nunes brothers. The ship could be converted into whale- watching boat. So the aim is to join this ship to the same investment as the buildings of the whaling station.


The reconstruction funding of the old whaling station for conservation is open. The funding must be organised partly by local sources and partly by international sources. International components could be EU, WWF and IFAW.


The estimate of the total conservation cost is open. The University of Bremen is working with similar conservation work in Tenerife. They have proposed to design the Capelas whale observation station free of charge, excluding travel and living expenses in Sco Miguel. They have two architects working in a project. The output of this design can be used for the EU-application. But there is is still a long way to go for a real EU-application.

Local relationship

Local people should have a free of charge entrance into the whale observation station. The general policy is to continue their work in another form. Local people must be employed during the construction period as much as possible. They should also be employed for running activities. It is also supposed that the ownership of the commercial business will employ local people. This will guarantee that watching is more profitable than catching.

The EU science policy

The commercial and scientific whale-watching are working parallel on the same subject. Their achievements are linked with each other, but they are not dependent of each others' milestones. A close relationship between both partners helps to convert scientific knowledge into a popular form, and to reach much wider audience. This is in accordance with EU-policy.

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Rauno Lauhakangas