A Natural Connection to the Azores

Learning Activities and Teaching Strategies

Download the student worksheet for these activities.

I. Sailing Out

Whale ships sailed southeast out of New Bedford and southwest out of Buzzards Bay, before sailing around Martha's Vineyard and into the Atlantic Ocean. Whaling voyages lasted three to five years on average. 

They followed the Gulf Stream (see Prevailing Currents image to the left) and searched for whales. Whales were caught, flensed and processed on board in the "tryworks."  The primary target was the sperm whale. Other whale species in the Atlantic included the right and humpback.

Ships hunted whales around the Azores and visited the ports for a variety of purposes (see Historical Background, previous page of this Learning Center).

Azorean whaling was a bit different from Yankee whaling. Whalers who lived on the islands would launch boats from shore and row or sail to the whales, capture them and process them in shore-based tryworks. See the Whaling off Pico image on the right.

Have students look at the image of the Azores Archipelago in the Additional Resources section of this Learning Center. Have them name all of the islands. Challenge them to translate some of the names into English.


II. Latitude and Longitude

Locations on the ocean are noted in latitude and longitude. This website has a great explanation of how latitude and longitude work. 


Once you and the students have worked through this concept, they should take the absolute locations shown on the blue slide shown to the left and plot those locations on a map of the Atlantic Ocean. A pdf of the Atlantic Ocean chart can be downloaded and printed by clicking here.

III. Species Seen

Now that you know where this particular ship went during much of 1905, have students take a look at the image of "Animals Named in brig Sullivan Logbook." Have students match the pictures to the names in the logbook and write them on the worksheet. Encourage them to look up the Portuguese names for these organisms.

IV. What Else Lives in the Atlantic?

Using the two Species Worksheets provided here have students determine which seven animals might be found in the Atlantic Ocean between Massachusetts and the Azores. Students should circle their choices.

V. Plotting Specific Locations:

Part One

Students will choose two of the seven Atlantic animals that they picked in the previous exercise. As a means of practicing latitude and longitude, decide upon a logical absolute location for each animal. Plot it on the Atlantic Ocean chart.

Part Two

Either print out the Ponta Delgada and New Bedford pdf files (click on the titles to download the documents) or go to the two images in the Additional Resources section of this Learning Center that start with the phrase "What is the Absolute Location" and have students write out the latitude and longitude coordinates for each one. Which one is further north?

Final Question

Based on this information, in which direction did whalers have to sail to get from the mouth of Buzzards Bay to the Azores?