Imagine a place where the most mysterious of marine mammals roam the deepest parts of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a place where transient giants journey across oceans to the sapphire waters of a remote archipelago. A place of factual imagination where the largest toothed-whale on the planet live off the Kraken of myths – giant squid.
What is this place? The Azores.
Almost halfway between North America and Europe this isolated group of islands still has a strong European influence. It is steeped in Portuguese flavours; with good food, fine wines and a relaxed culture. Once a whaling nation, The Azores’ livelihood is now built on tourism and watching the resident Sperm whales.
The Azores were formed from the blood of the Earth. The archipelago consists of nine islands of which Pico is the youngest and was formed just 300 thousand years ago. With a mountainous peak – a signature of its volcanic origins - Pico has an imposing landscape. It is here that I base myself, for its easy access to t ...
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When people think about travelling through South East Asia, you generally think they are talking about Thailand, Laos or Vietnam. But we often forget places like Indonesia, which hold a multitude of exotic destinations and diverse cultures. Its hidden beauty and unique inhabitants is what entice thousands of travellers to its shores each year. More specifically, travellers hauling large amounts of equipment, from the farthest reach just to experience what lies beneath the mysterious Komodo Islands.
Flying into one of the largest towns in Flores, Maumere situated approximately 800km east of Bali, I got my first glimpse of life in the region. Like in many parts of Asia, getting around is a matter of necessity and not necessarily a luxury. Small motor scooters lined the streets and moved around in a somewhat organised chaos. The larger vans transporting people from one destination to the next would honk their horn indicating for those on a scooter, now was the time to get out of the way. ...
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My heart pounds as the anticipation builds and a haunting silence falls over the ocean. A deep resonating breath expels as a colossus breaks the surface. The skipper yells ‘Go! Go! Go!’ as I slip inelegantly into the water. I am encompassed by an abyssal trench with deep blue shards of light beaming into the depths. I swim towards the shadowy outline of a mysterious leviathan. Closer and closer this indistinct apparition transforms into a realization as I come face to face with one of the planet’s largest inhabitants, the Humpback whale.
Watching silently on the surface the only noise is the amplified sound of my breath echoing through my snorkel. Everything is happening in slow motion. Time stands still, as hours feel like minutes. They hover beneath the surface. Graceful and agile, these enormous creatures are hypnotic in their action. Moving effortlessly through strong currents and at times appearing stationary below the surface. One word comes to my mind, ‘humble’.
In the deep bl ...
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