Canary Islands. Atlantic, more than 100 miles west of Morocco. Popular tourist destination, especially for its mild climate year-round. About 2 million residents. From this sketchy figures it would not seem like a naturalistically attractive place, but going deeper it holds many surprises. There is extreme here as well. These volcanic islands emerge from the abyssal ocean floor 3-4,000 meters! Away from the coast, in the open sea, several groups of cetaceans can be spotted.
In this archipelago these marine mammals are protected. They are far away from the sites of the ritual slaughter that takes place every year in the Faroe Islands, for a tradition that today has lost all reason to exist. They call it Grindadráp, the vicious hunt that is mostly perpetrated against pilot whales.
I went in search of the pilot whales and had the privilege of photographing some of the mothers nursing and nurturing their pups, who even though they are now very grown still being nursed!
These pilot whales are magnificent freedivers. They can dive up to 500m deep to hunt their prey, mostly cephalopods. They often engage furious fights with large specimens (squids/flying tattlers) and of these they bear clearly visible scars on their bodies. At the same time, they are loving mothers who care for their “pups” and nurse them almost to adulthood.
For the purpose of photographing these specimens and trying to spot some mother/son pairs in the pod, I had to go freediving and with light equipment (no artificial lights). So I had to choose to make the best use of ambient light.
By highlighting subjects, with shots mostly from above, you have a way to get fantastic light effects in the background, thanks to the sun’s rays fading into the depths.
I had to freedive and dive with light equipment (no artificial lights). This was to make it much easier for me to move around in the water (speed) and in the constant getting in and out of the boat.
These cetaceans swim placidly… but it was really hard to follow their gait and try to photograph them head-on.