The Azores, Portugal
The Azores is an archipelago composed of nine volcanic islands, located in the middle of the Atlantic, about 2000 km from the Canadian coast and 1500 km from mainland Portugal. Its volcanic nature provides a variety of submarine mounts and canyons, which together with the shallower waters closer to the islands create a hotspot for marine biodiversity as well as providing a must-stop route point for many migrant species, including cetaceans.
28 different species of cetaceans have been recorded, which covers roughly one third of all the species of cetaceans of the world. This richness of species is amongst the highest in the Atlantic and even on the planet. Some of these species are sighted year round (e.g. sperm whales, bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins and Risso’s dolphins), while others are present in the archipelago only seasonally (e.g. Atlantic spotted dolphins.) Others just pass by the islands during their migrations, like the big baleen whales.
The Azores has a strong historical bond with cetaceans, mostly linked to whaling in older times, and nowadays reflected in the socio-economic and cultural activity in all the islands. Whales have become emblems of the archipelago, enhancing its aim to be a world leader in the area of sustainable tourism and conservation.