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Madeira and Azores (Portugal) > Pictures and travelogues > Devil ray and Blue shark in the Azores

Pictures from the giant devil ray at Princess Alice Bank and the blue shark near Pico and Faial Islands in the Azores.
 
Giant devil ray (Mobula mobular) at Princess Alice Bank in the Azores
Giant devil ray (Mobula mobular) at Princess Alice Bank, near Pico and Faial Islands in the Azores.

Pico and the neighbouring Faial Island are good bases to go diving with mobulas, blue sharks and mako sharks. Whale watching and swimming with dolphins are also offered from Pico and Faial. It's definitely worth become acquainted with these giants of the ocean.

Princess Alice Bank is a submerged seamount that is located 50 nautical miles (93 km) to the southwest of Pico Island and 45 nmi (83 km) to the southwest of Faial Island in the Azores. It is a world-class diving and fishing spot. Due to strong currents, it is a place for experienced divers. It was named after an oceanic research expedition of Prince Albert of Monaco on July 9, 1896 on board his research vessel the Princess Alice. The bank has an enormous biodiversity and clear waters that allow the observation of the ocean floor. Due to the visibility of the water, one may enjoy all of this living nature through snorkeling, since there are species that are virtually just swimming at the surface. 

Princess Alice bank is renowned for the Mobulas, which can be found in groups of 5-30 animals.
The graceful giant devil ray (mobulas), also known as devil fish, is a species of eagle ray. It has large, pointed pectoral fins which enables it to move around with gentle wing-like beats. It is immense, growing to a length of up to 650 cm and a disc width of up to 520 cm. The giant devil ray feeds on plankton and small pelagic fishes. It occurs in the Mediterranean and in the eastern Atlantic. This magnificent species is classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List. Although there is no directed fishery for the Giant Devil Ray, incidental catch and mortality rates are high.

The giant devil rays and manta rays belong to the family Mobulidae. The shape and appearance of the giant devil ray are similar to that of the manta ray. In fact, mobulas are smaller than mantas and they have subterminal rather than terminal mouths. Like Manta rays, mobulas are often accompanied by remoras. Mobulas get no advantage in this relationship, but the remora obtains transportation, protection and some food that the host drops. Mobulas and mantas are sociable and enjoy approaching divers.

Blue Shark in the Azores
Blue Shark (Prionace glauca) near Pico Island in the Azores.

The Azores has diving spots for watching blue sharks. Diving with blue sharks requires some safety precautions. The shark should not be challenged. It may be dangerous. It should not be touched unless it gets too close to the diver. Then the diver should gently push it on the gills. If you thrust too hard or too abruptly, it may bite or attack another diver it has in sight.

The b
lue shark is a large, slender-bodied requiem shark. It feeds primarily on small fish and squid, although it can take larger prey. It is a sleek shark with long, pointed fins, a pointed snout, triangular teeth, and large eyes. Its elongated caudal fin provides swimming power as the tail moves side-to-side. The male commonly grows up to 2.82 m (9.3 ft) and the females up to 3.3 m (11 ft). Large specimens can grow up to 3.8 m (12 ft) long.

Blue sharks are found worldwide in temperate and tropical waters. They normally swim very slow at the surface but can be found down to a depth of approximately 150 m. Males and females live segregated. They get their name from their dark blue back and bright blue sides.

Blue sharks are among the most abundant of the sharks. They are one of the most heavily fished sharks in the world, with an estimated 10 to 20 million individuals caught and killed each year. The species is classified as near threatened on the IUCN Red List.


 

Links

More pictures from the Azores
Find here many pieces of information and more pictures of Dirk Wuyts (ADC Scuba Diving Antwerp Club) about his trip to the Azores: Pico Island, Faial Island and several diving spots.

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Pictures from the giant devil ray at Princess Alice Bank and the blue shark near Pico and Faial Islands in the Azores. Travel guide to the Azores with many nice pictures.