Azores -- 29 July
The ocean surface is smooth as glass. Sitting on the inflatable with mask, snorkel and fins, I watch as a large pilot whale heads straight for me. A male over 15 feet-- his curved dorsal fin neatly cuts the surface. Slipping into the water as quietly as possible ( which in my excitement equates to a loud splash) the bubbles clear with the pilot whale [26k .au file] directly in front of me. He dives down. I do the same, but with far less grace, pumping my legs as fast as I can to get within an arm's length of Globicephala melas, the short-finned pilot whale. And although the passing of the animal's bodylength takes only a moment--I can instantly see the power in the muscles of his thick, dark torso. A lighter patch of pigment stands out along the back. Several prominent round white scars, left by the opportunistic cookie-cutter shark, are to be found above and behind the eye.
And it is that eye that I am drawn to most. It has moved to see me. A black
eye, rimmed in white , looks back, then is gone. The animal lifting sharply
curved tail flukes ever so slightly to glide forward and quickly out of range.
Others in his pod follow--leaving me frozen in their wake and rising to the
surface for a breath of air.