The WCA is thrilled to announce that the Azores has been awarded Whale Heritage Site status! The Azores is now the second fully certified Whale Heritage Site in Europe, and one of only six Whale Heritage Sites worldwide.
The Whale Heritage Site initiative is our flagship global programme, supported by World Animal Protection, that accredits outstanding destinations around the world where cetaceans and their habitats are celebrated, respected and protected.
All nine islands in the Azores archipelago have a strong cultural connection with cetaceans, progressing from their history of hunting sperm whales to their present-day responsible whale watching and conservation activities.
An astonishing 28 different species of whale and dolphin can be seen in the waters around the Azores – one of the greatest varieties of cetacean species in the world! Some of these can be sighted year-round, such as sperm whales and Risso’s dolphins, while others, like Atlantic spotted dolphins and blue whales, are seasonal or migratory visitors.
This biodiversity makes the Azores a fantastic site for research, in addition to being the location of several Marine Protected Areas. The archipelago has also received many awards as a sustainable tourism destination over the years, thanks to their efforts to reduce carbon emissions and care for both land and ocean environments.
“The Whale Heritage Site Azores is a community led project supporting all 9 islands that make up the archipelago and the ocean that surrounds us. This important certification underlines the commitment of the Azorean community, whale watching companies and other entities to ocean and marine conservation.”– Jose Azevedo, chairman of the Azores Whale Heritage Site steering committee.
By granting Whale Heritage Site status to the Azores, we recognise their commitment to protecting the many whales and dolphins around these beautiful islands, as well as helping people to watch them safely and responsibly.
Congratulations to the steering committee and community of the Azores Whale Heritage Site for their amazing work over the years to achieve this certification!
Header image: dolphins off the coast of São Miguel by eyewave, via Getty Images.