Learning about coastal erosion from José Manuel N. Azevedo of the University of the Azores

From the Ship

The Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassadors learn the impact of the climate crisis in Ponta Delgada, Portugal

Jun 6, 2019

On May 31, Peace Boat’s Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassadors arrived to Ponta Delgada, in the Azores Archipelago, onboard the 101st Global Voyage. During the day, the group were hosted by professors from the University of the Azores from whom they learnt about the many challenges that this group of nine islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean are facing in relation to climate change.

In the morning, a group of marine biologists from the University of Azores visited the ship to share insights and research about the situation of the Azores Islands and, specifically, about Sao Miguel, the island the group visited with Peace Boat's ship. The local participants in this programme were José Manuel N. Azevedo, a professor at the local university since 1988 who did his PhD on the biology and ecology of littoral marine fishes; Afonso Prestes, a PhD student in Biology with intensive experience in coastal Azorean communities; and Ignacio Moreu, a marine biologist that has been gaining considerable knowledge and experience in algal taxonomy and ecology. “Prior to this, I hadn’t heard about Ponta Delgada, but to have had the eye-opening experience of being introduced to the island from a marine environmental perspective was certainly a privilege”, said Nathaniel Soon, Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassador from Singapore.  

After the session onboard the ship, the youth ambassadors and the university professors travelled around the island by bus, learn some history and see first-hand how coastal erosion is affecting this part of Portugal. First, they visited the Poços São Vicente where they learnt about the days where the whale industry was a big activity on the island until the last whale was killed in 1986. One of the highlights of the day was the visit to the Lagoa do Fogo, a lake that was created after a volcano explosion in an area classified as a Nature Reserve since 1974, and one of the main touristic attractions of San Miguel.

They also visited the São Roque church, from where it is easy to appreciate all the artificial constructions that are being built in the Azores to protect the coast, especially after a great storm that in 2015 caused serious floods and fatalities. “For me, one of the most interesting sights was the artificial seawalls surrounding the coastal areas of the island. Coming from a low-lying country, it gives me a feeling of assurance and relief that this is what we can do to protect our atolls”, said Tapua Pasuna, Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassador from Tuvalu.

Finally, after this visit around the island, the group went back to Ponta Delgada, where they returned to Peace Boat to start a 6-day journey to New York City, where the group will disembark on World Oceans Day.