Integrated in Faial Natural Park, Porto Pim Whaling Factory is an industrial complex located in the southwest part of Porto Pim bay, on the slope of Monte da Guia. Receiving about 12 000 visitors per year, the Whale Factory stands as one of the best examples of extinct Azorean whaling industry, crucial to the historical, economical and social understanding of such activity. The permanent exhibition of Porto Pim Whale Factory virtually relies on all its original machinery. There, the visitor follows the itinerary of the full processing of the sperm whale, which aimed at obtaining its commercial by-products (blubber and the harnessing of meat, bone and blood meal). The Factory also includes a vast amount of assets resulting from the intense whaling activity that took place in Faial in the 20th century.
The History of Porto Pim Whale Factory
Porto Pim Whale Factory began to be built in 1941, starting to operate, still in trial phase, in 1942. It belonged to SIMAL – Sociedade Industrial Marítima Açoriana, Lda. (Azorean Industrial Maritime Society), established in 1939 with the goal of “exploring the industry of the full harness of whales and other sea species, as well as the commerce of their respective by-products”. During its 30 years in operation, 1940 sperm whales were processed, producing 44 000 barrels of whale oil. In 1974, following the global decline of whaling industry, the factory closed down. In 1980, the Regional Government of the Azores acquired the whole factory complex with the goal of installing there the Oceanography and Fishery Department of the University of the Azores, as well as a Fishing School, an intent that was never carried out.
In 1984, the old factory was classified as Property of Public Interest. After almost two decades of building and machinery degradation, no doubt lessened by the long-lasting efforts of Manuel da Rosa Correia (Patrão Manuel) and Manuel Medeiros (Sr. Amaral), the factory finally underwent refurbishment and improvement works. The Sea Center opened in 2000, aiming at becoming a museum for cultural and scientific dissemination. Since 2004, the factory hosts the Sea Observatory of the Azores, which has been fostering its activities. In 2010, Porto Pim Whale Factory was included in the Monte da Guia Faial Natural Park Complex.
Monte da Guia: Lat. 38.52294245 Long. -28.6255166
9900-000 Horta Faial
Upon arriving at Horta center, the visitor can easily spot Monte da Guia, located on the southeast area of the Island. If coming from the town, the visitor will find a name plate on Monte da Guia entrance, located to the left of the old maritime station and Peter Café Sport. If coming from Porto Pim beach, the Whale Factory is located on the opposite side.
Porto Pim Whale Factory Museum provides free guided tours daily (in Portuguese, English, and French) that must be booked in advance.
Upon visiting the Factory and the whole collection of industrial archaeology, the visitor can behold the sperm whale skeleton, a unique specimen in the Azores, on display at Patrão Manuel Room.
Leaving the Factory, the visitor can also take a walk on the beach and enjoy the beautiful views upon Porto Pim bay, which offers bathing and leisure areas, as well as maritime activities (diving and snorkeling) and some heritage points of interest, such as the Dabney House and the Aquarium, located within 200 meters.
When climbing up Monte da Guia, the visitor may enjoy the walking trails and see the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Guia, open to the public in July and August.
If touring around the Island, the visitor will be able to visit several whale portholes, Capelo boat house and Capelinhos Volcano Interpretation Center, as well as enjoy whale watching and stop by Peter Café Sport.
The Museum is open to the public from Monday to Friday, from 10:00am to 5:00pm in winter (from November 1st to March 31st) and everyday (except on Easter Sunday) from 10:00am to 6:00pm in summer (from April 1st to October 31st).
Guided tours must be booked in advance and take about 45 minutes (number of visitors per tour: 4-20)
Porto Pim Whale Factory Museum holds a borrowing library with great variety of interdisciplinary themes. It also has a documentation center, in which research time must be booked in advance. The visitor will also enjoy free Wi-Fi and an outside leisure area.
Tel.: 292 292 140