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Interesting places

Within reach of Sperm whales

Life underwater

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... I think I dropped into this Sperm-whale adventure quite by chance as usually I travel to different places.But this time a friend of mine Zsolt Sásdi who is a dive filmmaker told me that there would be an interesting opportunity. ...
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Photo: © Dániel Selmeczi

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... Azores-islands is an island group in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, 1500 kilometers far from Lisbon and about 4000 kilometers from North America.This group of nine islands is a very special place as there are sperm whales in its region all year round, however, a lucky weather is also needed to photography. ...
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... So we undertook the organization of a two-week expedition.We already had to request a permission to get close to the whales by ship and only qualified divers with teaching licence are allowed to dive here. ...
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... Of course, this is not free of charge, in addition, we had to rent a motorboat too as only that is suitable for watching and diving and not a sailing ship.After all these things, we only had to pray for good weather. ...
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... We walked down to the base every morning by 9 where they told us whether we were allowed to sail off or not.Even if everything went well, there was not too warm as the daily temperature was around 20 degrees celsius and the water was 18 degrees. ...
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Photo: © Dániel Selmeczi

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... Whale diving does not take place with device.To my surprise recently it had happened in several places that I only dived with a snorkel, for example in South Africa or not too long ago in Indonesia when we swam with whale sharks.. ...
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... I can say that for me this is a new dimension of both photography and diving.But thanks to my recent experiences i was wellprepared for the challenges. ...
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... Therefore people are still up there on the peaks and watch the sea and navigate the boats via radio.Thus we could get to the spot very quickly. ...
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Photo: © Dániel Selmeczi

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... I was surprised on the number of marine mammals around the Azores and as I learned later their number increases continuously.Experts who work on longterm observations say there are evident signs to prove it. ...
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... Sperm whales can be recognized very easily, in spite of the fact that they rarely show up.The sperm whale’s distinctive shape comes from its very large, block-shaped head, which can be one-quarter to one-third of the animal’s length.The S-shaped blowhole is located very close to the front of the head and shifted to the whale’s left. ...
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... The maximum depth reached by them is around 3000 metres.At these enormous depths their lungs shrink and they store the oxygen in their muscles and blood and their heartbeat can slow down to its quarter. ...
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... Although the average diving period is less than 45 minutes and after surfacing their blows last for about 12-20 seconds.They are on the surface usually for 3-6 minutes and this is the time when we could capture them. ...
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... We had to spot them in the moment of surfacing and get closer carefully, then slip into the water silently and take shots - if we had luck.It was a hard job, I remember one day when I get on and off the boat fifty times. ...
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... Besides the Sperm whale we also encountered Short-beaked Common Dolphins (Delphinus delphis), Common Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and Risso’s Dolphins (Grampus griseus) as well.However, we only saw the latter once as it is a very rare and timid species and steer away the bouts. ...
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Photo: © Dániel Selmeczi

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... They followed the boat in large flocks, the young ones often swam close to ride the waves made by the boat.It was a great experience when we discovered a Leatherback turtle in the distance. ...
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... Their body length (from head to tail) ranges between 1.83-2.2 meter and the weight is about 700 kilogram.It is a very rare species, even locals see them sparsely. ...
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... At the end of the two-week expedition we realized that we only had two days when conditions were ideal, the water was flat and there was sunshine and the whales were not that reserved.In fact, all the good photos were taken that time. ...
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... We spent six days on the sea, we also dived with device, but there were not that much to see than for example on the Red Sea , so the whales made this tour memorable.Due to the uncertain conditions tourists often spend long time on the shore, therefore I can say that we were lucky as we could take nice pictures. ...
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... It would be worth returning to the Azores as an encounter with the sharks or blue whales could be very exciting and the visibility is as good as we could take proper pictures.It was a good experience for me that you do not need to take diving cylinders to see big animals. ...
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... I recommend to every diver to improve their snorkel diving skills as sometimes this is the only way to experience these incredible encounters.. ...
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... Dániel Selmeczi www.selmeczidaniel.com . ...
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... Video: Zsolt Sásdi. ...
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... Expert: Zsuzsanna Pereszlényi . ...
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