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No doubt Azores (Portugal) are one of the most amazing whale watch destinations in the world, but also a very delicate environment that must be respected and preserved.

Chris Beer and Lisa Steiner (Whale Watch Azores) give us a few tips on ways of helping the environment when travelling.
You can save natural resources by switching off lights when not in use
Although the Azores produces over 20% of its power from renewable sources the majority of power on the islands is still produced by diesel powered generating stations.
That diesel oil has to be imported to the Azores so wasting energy is also contributing to the local balance of payments deficit.
Save natural resources by using a minimum amount of water
All the water in the Azores is from natural rainfall wells and there are sometimes shortages on the islands.
We do not have a right to waste water and cause local people to have to go short. Why not turn off the tap when cleaning your teeth or lathering up your hands when washing them.
The marina fee we pay for filling up with water is the same whether we use 100 litres or 10,000 litres but every little drop helps.
Avoid buying carved whale teeth and bone
Carved whale teeth and bone known as scrimshaw is sold in the local shops as earrings, pendants or whole carved teeth.
Although it is not illegal to make and sell scrimshaw products, it is illegal to transport it from the Azores, whether you are keeping it in the EU (European Union) or not.
Even the smallest quantities are illegal and if they are found at customs on your return home, they will be confiscated. Support local people by buying locally made souvenirs such as the lovely handmade lace, or the carvings made from the pith of the fig trees. The market for scrimshaw products is controlled by a small number of people, not all of whom are local people. If tourists stop buying scrimshaw products the demand will disappear and this illegal trade will cease, meaning the lives of cetaceans will be safer.
Taking pictures of local people
If you wish to take a photograph of a local "character" why not ask if they mind before you do so?
You would probably be pretty unhappy if some camera toting foreign tourists walked into your mother’s quaint village and started sticking a camera up her nose and taking photos of her!
Understanding local culture and habits
Learning about the history of the local people will help you to understand their customs and you will become a more sensitive traveller.
We have given you a very brief amount of information on the history of the islands and their people in this booklet. Why not get some of the Azores books mentioned on our recommended reading list out of the library.
Do you speak Portuguese?
Learning a few words of Portuguese will make local people very happy, when they realise you are trying to speak to them in their own tongue.
Why not get a phrase book and practise a few sayings before you come to the islands?
Use environmentally friendly products
Take environmentally friendly detergents, shampoos and suncreams with you when you visit the Azores.
The marina and ports that we tie up in have amazingly clean water and the local government is trying preserve this situation with legislation and education of locals and visitors.
Let's do our bit to help to keep it the way it is.
Respect flowers and plants
It is not a good idea to pick local flowers or plants.
You may well be picking a species that is locally endangered and you may even be unwittingly transferring disease to your own garden. You may also be breaking customs regulations by bringing things back to your own country too.
Why not record their beauty with a camera instead?
Please remove the external packaging from any new things you buy before you fly out.
Many things such as soap, shampoo, lipsalve, sun tan lotion, film cartridges, new clothes and equipment are over packaged with cellophane and extra cardboard boxes.
Dispose of any plastics, paper and packaging at home.
The Azores have no recycling facilities to speak of and as they are islands, their landfill space is very limited.
A lot of their rubbish is incinerated, meaning more fuel has to be imported and more products of combustion end up in the atmosphere.
If you bring any battery powered equipment try to use rechargeable batteries.
There is power to recharge these on board or try getting a solar powered battery charger. See the shop at (Tel. 01654 705993) for these and many other great ideas.
If you don’t use rechargeables then please take the old batteries home as its much better to dispose of them when back home than in the Azores.
Litter disposal
When you go ashore for the day please bring your litter back to the hotel for disposal or find rubbish bins to use.
Walking and Trekking
Keep to the paths when out walking if possible as soil erosion can be a problem, where people walk regularly away from proper paths. There are lots to choose from.
The religion of the islands is Roman Catholic.
Although the young people dress in a modern way the older people in the countryside are more conservative.
When visiting areas off the beaten track please dress suitably and respect their sensibilities.
Bicycles are available to rent during your shore days on Faial and there are also local buses you can use.
If you use a taxi then try and share it with others from your group.
Less fuel per person is used that way.
Food and Drinks
We try to buy locally produced food and drink wherever possible.
You could also help here by drinking the local soft drink known as Maracuja. It is made from passion fruit, is not sickly sweet and is very refreshing.
One last thing to remember is that few people are able to keep to every piece of advice all the time.
But this does not mean you are not helping, if you are only doing some of them.

If the list seems daunting then try to aim to keep to at least some of the points for this holiday and then add a few more for your next holiday and so on.
Soon you will have them all covered.
Authors: Chris Beer and Lisa Steiner
Visit the author's web site: Whale Watch Azores
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