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Dolphins of the ArchipelagosLevel 4

Sail in an archipelago, unique for its exceptionally rich biodiversity and be a part of an observation and census campaign of the large cetaceans. Further Details Level 4

Dolphins of the ArchipelagosLevel 4

Sail in an archipelago, unique for its exceptionally rich biodiversity and be a part of an observation and census campaign of the large cetaceans. Further Details Level 4

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Reunion Island, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Hawaii…do exotic destinations excite you?
Do you have the urge to explore? Is sailing your passion or you simply would like to go on unusual holidays?
-  Without ever really daring to believe that it could come true, have you secretly longed to sail with the dolphins or watch whales in their natural habitat?
Then this stay is for you!

The stay

Set out on a unique adventure to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean ; on board the sailboat, you shall discover a spectacular but insular marine world.
This trip shall be a unique opportunity to discover the well known cetacean species including dolphins, sperm whales and bottlenose whales and to further your knowledge about the sea. On board sailboats that are practically transformed into scientific laboratories, you shall use approach techniques suited for each species of cetaceans and shall be trained to observe these mammals. To learn more about their natural habitat, you shall also be taken to study the entire ecosystem in which these species exist (water analysis, obseving microorganisms etc…).

Set out for the The Azores, also a shared human adventure, in the middle of a unique volcanic archipelago, edged with beaches with black sand and rich with luxuriant vegetation.

The marine mammals Marine Mammals Observe marine mammals in the Iroise Sea in Brittany. Watch them develop in their natural habitat. You can do this on ourplakton discovery sailing expeditions. and their habitat shall no longer hold secrets for you, and it is just as well, since during this stay, you would be participating in Objectif Sciences International’s CETIS Research project : know the oceans better, get involved in their study, it is a start towards protecting them for tomorrow.


During this stay, you shall be responsible for the census of the cetacean population crossing The Azores. On board sailboats transformed into scientific laboratories, you shall be able to observe numerous marine species, including dolphins, sperm whales or bottlenose whales.
Our aim? Spot marine mammal groups and identify each one of their members according to type, sex and age.
The study of the ecosystem in which exist these species also constitute an important part of your challenge : by analyzing the physical and chemical parameters of water, and sampling and observing plankton Plankton Plankton makes up the first level of the marine food chain. Discover thier importance and let yourself be fascinated by their beauty by taking part in our nature courses on whales and dolphins. , you shall become experts in the various techniques aimed at better understanding the natural habitat of cetaceans : gear up to discover unsuspected wonders!
While not sailing, you shall explore the islands to discover its steep landscapes flanked by majestic volcanoes and bordered by hydrangeas. By walking along these splendid pathways without losing sight of your adventurer status, you shall be able to observe unique plant and animal species in the world sharing space there.
Along these villages, you shall get to know the rich culture of The Azores with many festivals and traditions happening throughout the year.


During observation missions participants shall collect a lot of data on the physical and behavioral characteristics of cetaceans: count their numbers, photo identification of individuals, follow-up on migrations…These shall then be transferred for processing to the laboratories of the study partners of the project. This shall allow scientists to not just improve the current level of awareness of the manners of these whales but also to take a census of the numbers threatened by fishing. The role of marine mammals Marine Mammals Observe marine mammals in the Iroise Sea in Brittany. Watch them develop in their natural habitat. You can do this on ourplakton discovery sailing expeditions. in regulating the biodiversity of oceans and barometers of the quality of habitat are two core topics.
That is why the ecosystem in which they live has to be taken into account while conducting this observation. With this objective, water samples are analyzed to assess physical and chemical composition: temperature, acidity, salinity…The study of plankton Plankton Plankton makes up the first level of the marine food chain. Discover thier importance and let yourself be fascinated by their beauty by taking part in our nature courses on whales and dolphins. , the first chain in the food web of whales being a key indicator of the equilibrium of the ecosystem and the state of pollution if the region, shall also be included in the missions.
All the observations made at land and sea during this stay shall be delivered to the different laboratory networks that are partners in the project…through their activities, participants shall bring in an active contribution to the development of scientific research Scientific Research Participate in scientific research research programs. Help advance research on oceans to help us understand them better. Do this on our nature courses on dolphins and whales. within collaborative science Collaborative science Collaborative and citizen science is a way to contribute to scientific research. With our nature courses on dolphins and whales in the Azores find out how to have a useful holiday. programs.


The Portuguese group of islands of Azores located 1500 km from the Portuguese coast to the north of Morocco is the west most point of the European continent. Given its strategically important maritime location in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean near the junction of three tectonic plates, it is known to harbor an exceptional ecosystem. The nine islands that make up the chain are the result of volcanic activity characterized by marine diversity that is rare and diverse geological phenomena. The archipelago constitutes an important place of study for scientists of many disciplines: a volcanic hotspot, the very zone for malacology (study of mollusks) or a first class ornithological observatory. The area is also a sanctuary for large marine mammals. A third of the known species of cetaceans can be observed here; it includes the blue whale Dolphin
Dolphins, whales, plankton... discover the wealth of our oceans by attending one of our nature courses on dolphins and whales.
, the largest mammal in the world. The Azores is thus one of the best locations in the planet (alongside Tadoussac in Canada) for whale Dolphin
Dolphins, whales, plankton... discover the wealth of our oceans by attending one of our nature courses on dolphins and whales.


To fully experience scientific explorations, the participants shall have the opportunity to have a taste of life at sea by sleeping on board the boat every night after the day’s observations at sea.
At the end of a day’s sailing, the boat shall be anchored at port in the evening with every necessary comfort available at the marina: hot showers, electricity, Wi-Fi, beverage dispenser etc.…
At these times it shall be possible to get off on land for several hours to enjoy the local scene.
Some trips shall be longer (crossings between islands) and shall require day and night travel, far from the harbor and the comforts it offers. These voyages could last for a maximum of two days, without touching land.
During these voyages, electricity is limited (only a 12V plug) as is water (cold water in tanks only), but it is more than sufficient to spend many days at sea.
A regular supply of locally available fresh products means that the boats are fully equipped to cook all sorts of meals on board. It shall be possible (and is even recommended!) to put to use your culinary skills on board and share a good hot meal. But discovering another culture also means getting to know the culinary specialties. We shall not miss out on tasting typical dishes during our expedition to the islands.


The participants shall collect all the data that shall be sent to the laboratories.
A typical day: “We wake up early in the morning still rocked by the swell and the lapping of the waves. After a heavy breakfast, planning for our marine expedition starts: where do we want to go? Is the weather favorable? Where are we located vis-à-vis the coast? We shall also prepare our observation notes and look at a few photos of whales so as identify them as soon as they appear. It shall soon be the time to cast off…. After an hour of voyage under favorable winds, we shall reach an area conducive to observation when suddenly someone will exclaim: ”Whale spotted!” Armed with binoculars, we shall train our sights on the mammal while we try to respect the regulatory distance while moving closer. It is a group of dolphins! Marveling at the spectacle, we shall gather as much data as possible. After several hours at sea, pleased with the day’s adventures, it is time to get back to port: we have planned to go to an inn in the evening to try a local specialty before participating in the village night life. Back on the boat at midnight, it shall be a good, long night… »
The trip can last several days and you have to stay alert since observation continues even during the trip!
Land expeditions are planned as well, with excellent hikes. Don’t forget your walking shoes!


The entire stay is organized on the boat, which shall also be the observation platform on sea.
Apart from the sails and security equipment, all equipment necessary to observe and analyze data shall be on board.
spotting binoculars with telephoto lens to shoot cetaceans
data sheets and identification booklet
on board underwater video camera
camera with microscope
sampling equipment
physical measuring device for water (thermometer/conductimeter)


The stay shall follow a progression of learning and independence on the ground. Learning and practice sessions follow one another depending on weather conditions.
It promises to be hectic, punctuated by several voyages that could sometimes last for two days (day and night). A lot of learning and practical applications happen directly at sea.
The evening stopovers and dedicated rest days shall be an opportunity to discover the local way of life in this archipelago.

Topics discussed
- Sail:
- Expertise on sailboats and learning basic operations.
- Move the sail forward, adjust the sails and keep the boat’s helm headed right.
- Navigation, locating and choice of route.
- Managing during voyages.
- Sciences:
- Learning about the great cetaceans and their way of life.
- Species identification key for sighting at sea.
- Observation methods (approach protocol, route management and observation methodology).
- Data collection at sea.
- Video and photographic techniques appropriate for cetaceans.
- Life on location (depending on time available):
- Discovering the islands on foot.
- Observing endemic bird species.
- Strolling through the Azores volcano.

Standard program

- Example of program elements subject to modification according to the group and weather conditions.
- Day 1: arrival and getting to know the island
- Day 2: getting to know the sailboat and first trip out to the sea
- Day 3: observation methodology and trip to the sea
- Day 4: getting to know the cetaceans and trip
- Day 5: trips between the islands and observation
- Day 6: trips between the islands and observation
- Day 7: rest- discovering the island
- Day 8: getting to know the cetaceans and trip to the sea
- Day 9: long trip to the sea towards the shoals
- Day 10:long trip to the sea towards the shoals
- Day 11: rest and data processing
- Day 12: return trip to Sao Miguel
- Day 13: return trip to Sao Miguel
- Day 14: compiling and analysis of data and discovering the island
- Day 15: pack up and return


Oceans are the future of the planet. They cover 70% of the earth’s surface and release 65% of the oxygen that we breathe. Oceans make up the largest and the first link in the whole of the food chain. An incredible source of life, they shelter the richest, though least known, biodiversity in the world. The movements of currents determine climate and it is the ocean that regulates the whole of our climate and weather. For all these reasons, study of oceans holds a high stake in this century.
- The CETIS program is involved in all these topics and thus collects data at different levels to better understand each element and the interactions among them.
- Better understand today’s ocean is to preserve tomorrow’s ocean.

Scientific partners of the CETIS program : Ifremer, Oceanopolis, Plancton du monde, CNRS...



The CETIS program is supported by associations and teams made up of enthusiasts.

Cédric Courson : Founder and president of the “Astrolabe Expéditions” association, he is in charge of the CETIS program.
A sailor and scientist, equally enthusiastic about the sea and the stars, he is also the facilitator and scientific trainer and is responsible for the scientific and technical content of the program.

Florent Delorge : Founder of the Rêver aux 4 coins association, he is the teaching manager and the director of all of CETIS stay programs. A school teacher and a keen sports enthusiast, he is in charge of the logistics and the educational part of the stays.

Anosone Sygnavong and Louise Renard are in charge of developing the CETIS program and it is thanks to them that multiple and diverse activities are being undertaken, they are also there to respond to all your queries.

Hugo Mayere : Licensed by the state, Hugo is the captain and technical officer who takes care of the boats of the CETIS program. He also holds a degree in biology and computer science Science La science est désormais l’affaire de tous. Découvrez la science d’une manière ludique et active. Nous vous proposons d’en découvrir plus sur nos expéditions à la voile, découverte du plancton. and shall be the facilitator for most of the CETIS stays.

Astrolabe Expéditions association, the project partner, puts in place its knowhow and sailboats in CETIS research programs.
L’association Rêver aux quatres coins apporte sont expertise et son savoir-faire sur les séjours du programme CETIS.
During the stay : The leadership team shall be made up of a total of two or three people with the following skill set.
- The captain whose job is to guide the two sailors and to ensure the safety of the crew during the voyage. His superior knowledge of navigation and the Ocean is an important factor in the participants learning about sailing in detail.
- The scientific facilitator : Specialized in conducting scientific experiments, he shall teach the participants the different operations to be conducted and observation techniques.
- The educational facilitator : A veteran at vacation stays and facilitating of all sorts, he takes care of all logistical matters during the stay.
- We have agreed to limit the number of participants to eight so have a more pleasant experience and to create suitable conditions for an improved quality of stay and higher learning where everyone can take up different activities at his or her own pace.


Start and end of the stay :
The participants are expected to reach Punta Delgada, the capital of the Sao Miguel island on May 22 from 15 hours. The stay shall end at the same place on June 5.

Many airlines have direct connections to the Azores : STA Air Açores and TAP air Portugal… have a look at booking portals Edreams, Ebookers, Opodo, etc,

Providing boating equipment for more comfort is very useful : jacket and quarter pants, lycras and boots are mandatory. Even if weather in June is pleasant on the Azores, one should not forget that the archipelago is right in the middle of the Ocean and the wind can blow strongly as one moves away from the coasts. The cold is one of the main reasons for sea sickness and can very easily be avoided with the right material.

Health conditions:
For the most part, stay is on board the boat. Though you don’t require special training or be an athletic person, you have to keep your balance while standing up and be able to handle the sea which is usually calm but can occasionally have waves lightly shaking the sails. One should also keep in mind that on land one would go on hikes, often for several hours and kilometers.

Study Internship:
We plan to sign internship agreements for students registered for the stay and who would like to get it treated as university internship.


What happens if I am sea sick?
It is not the end of the world, anyone can suffer from it (like a common cold), and so one cannot prepare for it. One should always stay active and know how to listen to the needs of one’s body (sleeping when one is tired and eating when one is hungry). We often speak of the golden rule: not being hungry, cold or tired! Mental alertness is an important factor to combat sea sickness (make sure you stay active rather than slacking off or submitting to fatigue).
However, some are more susceptible to it than others, so it is important to discuss early enough with your doctor or pharmacist to see if a custom medication can be had if needed (anti motion sickness medication, wristband against sea sickness etc...).
It is better to be prepared because sea sickness can very quickly ruin your day!
Getting acclimatized is important as well, generally, after a couple of nights at sea, your body gets used to and adapts to the environment.

Should I have already done some sailing to participate in this stay?
During this stay, you will definitely sail for 6 to 10 hours a day, for days and nights on end. So it is important to mentally prepare yourself. Technically speaking, no specific sailing or scientific skills are needed, everything will be taught to you. A spirit of adventure is all that is needed!

Should I bring special clothes?
Sea voyage can be long and cold. It is better to be prepared with warm clothes - arctic type clothing for hiking, water resistant clothes for the chest and legs (water resistant jacket and k-way trousers).
We don’t usually think of taking warm clothes in summer but being at the helm for several hours at sea on windy nights can lead to cold and fatigue (loss of calories) and eventually sea sickness. To avoid this, it is important to stay warm.

What should I bring?
Luggage: It is better to bring supple, preferably water resistant bags (rectangular hard suitcases typical of air travel are not permitted on sailboats; else, you will have to sleep with the suitcase across your knees!)
Bedding and bedclothes: Remember to bring a sleeping bag. Fitted sheets and mattress covers are provided, pillows and pillowcases as well.
Clothes for the sea: Even though you will be sailing in the summer, it can quickly turn humid and cold on the water. Sea boots (and comfortable walking shoes), jackets, overalls, polar fleece are necessary.
Photo/video/computer equipment: Even though all necessary equipment is provided, you can, if you wish, bring your own photo/video/computer equipment. To help you out, facilitators available on hand shall help you use your equipment better (help with camera or software installation on your computer)
=>Essential: Do not forget headphones, hats, sun screen and sunglasses (preferably, polarized)

Can you recharge electrical devices on board?
While at the harbor the boat is hooked to 220V and so you can recharge your devices at will. While at sea, the boat has only a 12 V plug and it is limited. The batteries are mainly for the use of instruments on board. However during crossings it is possible to plug in your computer to the 12V on the boat or to recharge it (just like in your car).
Given that there is no network, telephones are totally useless at sea…
Note: 12V USB adapters are available on board but to plug in your computer while at sea, you need an adapter specific to each model, make sure you have the right information.

Can you make a call/communicate while at sea?
Communication tools are available at sea that allow for brief exchanges between ships or with ports, usually to receive weather updates or to send out a request for help.
Any communication over telephone or via Internet shall have to wait till you return to harbor (where Wi-Fi, though limited, is usually available).


Photo par Fred Tanneau

Daniela Zeppilli, PhD postdoctoral fellow in marine sciences with an international reputation for excellence
LabexMER University of Brest, European University Institute of the Sea, French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea

“I am a woman, a mother, a scientist and I love the sea. These are the four main reasons why I support the stays organized by Objectif Sciences International. I would have loved to have gone on this type of scientific holidays when I was young.”


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