Azores Diving… This incredible group of nine islands rises up from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge some 2000m below. The islands act as beacons to the large migratory mammals in this part of the northern hemisphere. Plus they are home to a resident population of sperm whales and blue sharks.
In September last year I set out on the marathon journey from Sydney to the island of Pico in the Azores. An odyssey of nearly 40 hours and four flights!
I must admit that before I left I only really knew two things about Azores Diving. The first being the presence of sperm whales… Secondly, and most importantly, that it is possible to get in the water with them. Albeit under a special permit granted by the Secretaria Regional do Mar, Ciência e Tecnologia.
Well maybe there was a third… I vaguely knew where the Azores was!
The trip was organised by Scott Portelli, who had applied for and been granted that special permit. While the boats and logistics were coordinated by Cetacean Watching Azores. Altogether I spent three weeks in the Pico area. Roughly half of that time spent looking for and photographing sperm whales and other large mammals and the rest learning about Azores Diving.
Azores Diving – Spectacular Islands
The Azores are visually spectacular! I left with a much better understanding of the islands, their people and culture plus a lot of great images. But I was determined to learn more, particularly about the whaling that was the main industry until the mid 1980’s and now underpins the islands popularity as a tourist destination.
So I started to research these islands in the North Atlantic. That turned my trip turned in to a journey that took me down many paths as I learned about their history. Plus how whaling started and the way the islanders embraced it in a horrific yet heroic manner from small boats in the open ocean.
I had never understood whaling before. Because it just seemed to be a horrendous and brutal practice that should never have happened. But when viewed from the perspective of these remote islanders I kind of came to terms with it all – almost…
Azores Diving – Underwater Encounters
Underwater the Azores offers some incredible encounters – if you are lucky… Large mammals dictate their own terms with these things! But it’s an amazing area and the chance to be in the water with sperm whales, pilot whales, false killer whales, dolphins and manta rays – not to mention the blue sharks – is an intoxicating mix!
X-Ray magazine recently published a comprehensive article of mine The Azores – Where the Whales Roam. The article documents what I learned from my trip to these beautiful and interesting islands in the remote North Atlantic.
All images taken under a special permit granted by the Regiao Autonoma Dos Acores, Secretaria Regional Do Ambiente E Do Mar, Dreccao Regional do Ambiente.