Working with the Oceano Azul Foundation, the University of the Azores, National Geographic’s Pristine Seas, and an international team of scientists and photographers, we returned to the Azores in June of 2018. This expedition followed one we conducted 2 years previously that focused on the Eastern Azores of Portugal. This time we would concentrate on the western islands of Faial, Pico, Sao Jorge, Flores and Corvo. This expedition would be primarily conducted from the Santa Maria Manuela, a 1937, 220-foot, steel 4 masted sailing ship originally home to a fleet of cod fishing dories. The ship NRP Almirante Gago Coutinho would also work in conjunction with the expedition, operating their ROV LUSO, which would discover the shallowest hydrothermal vent field known to date about halfway through the project.
For 25 days the Santa Maria Manuela hosted teams of science divers, media photographers, Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) technicians, crew to operate 4 simultaneously operating boats that worked sunup to sundown turning all the gear and teams. Add the crew of the mother ship and upwards of 50 people participated on this expedition, which worked its way from Horta on Faial, out across the islands to Corvo and then a couple side trips to nearby seamounts. This was a very ambitious expedition which accomplished all of its many goals, a rare thing.
The results are going to show it; this expedition gathered an astonishing amount of data about the entire ocean biosphere. As mentioned, the expedition discovered a new hydrothermal vent field on the Mid- Atlantic Ridge, the shallowest known to date. The expedition also had some amazing interactions with wildlife, from the Mer, or Dusky grouper, to the Mobula rays and Sperm whales.
Check out the film and check back, we’ll update this page with new films and results as we receive them.