Travel Photographer of the Year 2017: Highly commended in the Primary Colours category and finalist in another two categories.
Commended photographer in the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards, the world’s largest photography competition.
As soon as we spotted the first whale - a Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) - I realised the blow was unusually persistent in the air, as it was still visible quite a few seconds after the whale dove.
While I did take several shots of that whale (see below), I thought it would be nice and quite unique to have a photograph of the blow without a whale underneath it.
Before the whale dove
Once back home, I looked at that ghost blow and my thought went immediately to all the whales that, over the centuries, lost their lives because of us humans.
Here in the Azores Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) were hunted till the mid-80s.
In the southern hemisphere, Blue whale hunting stopped in the 60s, just because the biggest animals ever to inhabit our planet were pushed so close to the brink of extinction that it became too hard to find them, thus preventing whaling operations from being economically viable.
That population of Blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) in the Southern Ocean is still not showing signs of recovery after the senseless slaughter.
As another example, the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) is functionally extinct in the East Atlantic and only about 400 individuals are left on the western side of the ocean basin.
Researchers reckon that if we only managed to safe at least one North Atlantic right whale female from ship strikes every year, the population would have a chance to increase again.
Whales have suffered from human greed and violence for centuries. Many of them died because they refused to leave behind other members of their social groups. Many mothers sacrificed their lives by choosing to stay with their injured, harpooned baby - something old whalers liked to do to exploit the strong mother/calf bond.
Every time we see the whales in their habitat or watch them on TV, we can immediately realise they are very gentle giants.
Yet, mankind has killed millions of them and in so doing we threatened their very existence.
This photograph is dedicated to the soul of all whales killed by mankind.
This image is available in two versions: with and without the writing.