The Azores, an archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean have been a destination on my so-called "To Go List" for a very long time. Last year, in August / September 2013 the dream came true, finally.
The Azores form a group, consisting of 9 islands of volcanic origin, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, about 1,000 miles (1.500 km) off the Portuguese and almost 2,000 miles (3.000 km) off the North American coast.
The islands are categorized in three groups:The eastern group
The central group
- São Miguel
- Santa Maria
The western group
- São Jorge
The very specific climatic conditions establish the foundations of a species-rich and manifold flora. The endemic flora has been enriched by plants from all over the world that have been brought to the islands by migratory birds, sailors and botanists.
The Azores are one of the best places for whale watching worldwide. Waters there, along the mid-Atlantic ridge, offer ideal conditions for a multiplicity of whales and dolphins. Nutrient-rich upwellings allow a high biodiversity.
Whaling affected the history of the islands until about 1985. Today priorities have moved on to sustainable fishing and ecotourism. Purse seine net fishing and trawling, which caused high by-catch rates, have been banned for many years.
While lots of species of whales can be encountered during spring and summer, e.g. blue whales (the largest, heaviest animals on earth), fin whales, humpback whales, sei whales, many other species, e.g. sperm whales or - in rare cases - killer whales, can be observed, if you're lucky, throughout the year.
Some species of dolphins can be seen in Azorean waters throughout the year as well, for example bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins, Risso's dolphins or striped dolphins. Other species occur mainly during the summer months, e.g. Atlantic spotted dolphins and Fraser's dolphins. Dolphins are often found in schools of 100 or more animals. During a whale watching event you often are accompanied by a group of dolphins.
Having visited the islands of São Miguel, Terceira and Pico, I would like to take you on a photographic journey to the Azores now.
Feel free to have a look at the Azores photo album on this website.
And please check out this nice book I've created using the blurb platform once again.
The book is available as hardcover (dust jacket or ImageWrap) and even as an ebook (iBooks format).