Stranded Sperm whale on Bleik beach

On the 26th of August 2012 we received the news that a dead sperm whale had stranded in Bleik beach. We headed as soon as possible to find it laying on an open beach, with very easy access. We were lucky enough since the animal was relatively fresh (between 1 and 2 weeks old) and its jaw still had all its teeth on it.

That same afternoon it was impossible for us to reach him, due to the rising tide, but we went back the next days, and thanks to the help of Dutch tourists that were with us in a Whalesafari trip, we were able to collect skin samples and several teeth, both from the lower and upper jaws. The samples will be used for Marta Acosta Plata’s PhD research project in the future.


To our surprise, the male sperm whale was much longer than it looked, reaching 13.75m in length. Its tail was 3.35m long. These and other measures are helpful to estimate the age of the individual. Additionally, one tooth will be analyzed for this purpose in the near future.

The cause of dead is so far unknown, and the animal did not show any wounds or signs of interactions with human activities. Unfortunately, we were not able to open the stomach to collect samples.

We would like to thank all collaborators, volunteers, locals and tourists for their help.



Luca Tassara says good bye

My summer (winter?) experience for the MAREFA .
And so the day has come to leave this cosy place to go back in business with my regular life. The warm Italy? NO, still the beautiful north of Norway. A lot of memories are already taking their places in my mind on the time that I’ve spent working for the organization, but the keywords are really simple : Enjoyable and Educative. The team is a well-assembled puzzle composed by people from different parts of the world, from the pristine Argentina to the mysterious Taiwan but with a stronger composition of the old Europe. This aspect has enhanced the interested rose in me by the MAREFA thank to all the different scientific and life backgrounds I had met. My work was focused mostly on the whale-watching vessels of the Whale-Safari company, but I could also experience the research from the top of the light-house and the treatment of stranded carcasses of one harbour seal and a sperm whale. The “office work” was well-balanced with the fieldwork and it happened that I could give my contribution in the fund-raising/educational Whale-day. As I am writing I can feel a pinch of sadness raising within, but at the same time I know that this great experience will improve my perspective of the life and of the research.
Ciao Andenes. Ciao MAREFA!



Nina leaves Andenes…

After an interesting trip from Croatia to Norway, sun welcomed me at 11 pm in Andenes. It was a good sign !

Thanks to all the people that were already there, it didn´t take long for me to adapt.

My first trips were accompanied with large groups of white sided dolphins and, of course, sperm whales.  So learning could start: collecting data during the sightings, taking photo-ID pictures, acoustic recordings, working on the database, using BigEye binoculars…. So much work to do, but so much fun doing it! It was the perfect match of love towards the whales, learning, having fun, beautiful nature, boats and getting to know a bunch of interesting people from all over the world.

Some of us were lucky enough to go on a 48 hours trip on board the catamaran Maan Dolphin, and were able to see one part of beauty that Norway offers: of course, the fjords! The trip started in Andenes… we went through fjords, stopped in Tromsø and off to the Barents Sea!. But it was not just that beauty that we wanted to see, cetaceans were hiding somewhere on the way. I think I would not be wrong if I say that on that trip we, once more, showed how good a team can work. The fact is that working with MAREFA helped us gain so much knowledge and provided us withgreat background to continue working towards perfection.

Thank you guys for that beautiful experience and SEE YOU SOON !!!!! 


Whaleday in Andenes

This weekend we organised the first Whaleday in Andenes! With the aim of promoting the MAREFA activities: research on marine mammals and marine biology education. The event took place in the very centre of Andenes, and we had a nice response from both local people and the tourists. The children who came with their parents could participate in free educational workshops , discovering the ocean world. We also sold home-made cakes trying to raise some funds to support our activities. We hope that this will be the first of many similar events that will involve more and more people! More photos coming up!

Ledi returns home…

I think describing my experience in Andenes would need many pages!! So I am going to try to make a summary…

I arrived in Andenes on a stormy day at the beginning of March and after more than 24 hours of travel. I remember my last plane, nay, a light aircraft, I took it in Bodo and it moved so much! Finally I landed, and there it was Marta, with the neckline open and I freezing to death, and the first thing I did, after seeing the house and drinking a beer, was watching the Northern Lights! Amazing!

The next day, training started… training to cold, training to snow (specially to ice and slippages), training to unpredictable weather, training to English, training to organize the database, training to survey from the lighthouse… the latter was the part I liked the most, since during the first 2 months, I can say I was “fed up” of watching sperm whales from the lighthouse, and killer whales! Many of them, playing, breaching, hunting… amazing! But, without question, my biggest problem was to buy food! Besides from the price (outrageous for a Spaniard), the most difficult was to relate food prices that are not even in the right order… how would I know that “kyllingfilet” was chicken when it was next to “torsk” (cod)??? But at the end I got used to it… what else could I do!

In April I went out for the first time on the boat, onboard Reine (one of the whalewatching vessels) and beginner’s luck… I saw killer whales! Can’t describe it!!! I was speechless!

In May the campaign started and after 4 trips of seeing nothing, I finally saw a sperm whale! And I behaved just like another tourist, as soon as I saw the fluke, I open my mouth and my eyes, at the time I exclaimed something like “wwooww!”. As the number of trips increased, the number of guides increased in the house, becoming something like a commune in which each of them was from a different place, with different mores… and that enriched my experience in Andenes, since I had the chance to get to know different cultures and share diner and “expired” food with amazing people!

And so the months elapsed, climbing up the lighthouse, entering data, having fun with other volunteers and guides and gorging of seeing sperm whales, killer whales, pilot whales and dolphins, lots of puffins, fulmars and terns among others, plus otters and elks! Well, a full experience for something that likes critters (including the homo sapiens J)