It was a mid-May day in Faial Island, the Azores (Portugal). We were waiting for information from our lookout about any blows around. In the Azores we work with lookouts, these experienced people who scan the surface of the ocean for whales since the whaling days.
That day had been tough: bad morning sighting conditions died away any chance the lookout had to find any whale for the first scheduled trip. After more than an hour of land-whale-waiting, which is much more time than what we usually wait, hopes were fading. But information arrived: Blue Whales.
Despite being May, which is baleen whale season in the Azores and the chances to see Blue whales are higher, 2019 was lower in baleen whale sightings than other years in Faial, so we were super excited with the news. Clients were having a soft drink or walking around the harbor to pass the time. We called and gathered everyone as quickly as we could. Everybody raced to put on our gear and hopped on the boat.
We had to go far Northwards, but the reward was incredible. It was a mother-calf pair Northbound. Two Blue Whales, side by side.
For those who are not familiar with these majestic animals, they are the biggest animal ever known on Earth. Adults can reach 30 meters long and calves are born with 7 meters long. Meaning that Blue whales’ size is a good reason itself to lose your speech.
By then the whole group was speechless when the whales surfaced a hundred meters behind us and came towards the boat. They passed us from the front less than 10 meters away and then they dove.
Blue whales were not the only sighting of the afternoon; we also saw the iconic whales in the Azores: Sperm Whales. Deep diving as we usually see them, showing the tails high up in the air.
A bonus was a geology lesson as we had a pair of geologist on the boat. We circled the Island of Faial and learned about it. We arrived at the harbor later than expected but it was totally worth it. Looking back, that was one of the greatest afternoons of the season.
-Maria from Azores Experiences
Special thanks to Sanne Bakers for the pictures and providing details of the encounter.