The biggest mammals of this planet roam the seas around the Azores Islands. For many visitors an encounter with one of these massive creatures is the high light of their visit. Not a surprise if you imagine they can reach up to 33 meters (about two city buses in line). Even more fascinating that these diving cows feed their 300 ton body with merely krill and and some other petite proteins they filter out of the water.
After walking on Terceira for three years, it was about time to say hello to our neighbours out there. And man. What an introduction. We spotted a female with a calf. The mothers tend to stay in the garden between the islands, while the dads have the tendency to migrate (ow, how typical).
Happy with the image of whale skin I have been able to make from the deck of the boat, I realise that it doesn’t match the true experience by a single bit. The excitement of getting closer, the waiting to reappear after a dive and then the feeling of a impressive creature swimming in front of you.
When they gently reach the surface they blow out air and water of their nostrils and it just feels big. You have to hear this.
So, if I can give one advice to future whale watchers; don’t get too stoked on getting a wicked photo. If you are not a professional, with a lot of patience and a proper zoom lens, you will have a lot, a l o t, of blue pictures with a grey stripe. And peeping through the view finder, hiding behind your device, it is not the real deal. At some point put your camera down, feel the experience and buy a postcard.
Well, I tried as well. And have a couple of nice grey stripes, which you see here. Curious if I can follow my own advice next time, I guess not.
We made the experience with Ocean Emotion, one of the operators based in Angra do Heroísmo. Although we have no comparison with other captains, we would highly recommand this organisation. The smiling captain, the contagious enthusiastic marine biologist who was still in awe of the sightings we made, they give us a great day and we learned a thing or two. The crew of Ocean Emotion treat the animals with great respect, like keeping their distance and not to hang around too long.
I could tell you 10 more fun facts I have learned about these beautiful animals and inform you about 10 more species you might encounter when you are here, but as always, it’s better to find out for yourself when you stay with us!