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blue shark image by Joost van Uffelen

Freediving with blue sharks

Blue sharks are in my honest opinion one of the most beautiful sharks in our seas. The blue shade on their backs and the slender elongated bodies are aesthetically perfect if you ask me.

It also makes them perfectly adapted to roaming the vast oceans, far out at sea in the blue.

Blue sharks are widely distributed around the worlds oceans and therefore also subject to heavy bycatch and directed fisheries.

In other words they are getting pounded since us humans started overfishing our seas (know that over 90% of the big fish have been fished out of our oceans already...).

The fins of these sharks have been filling many tasteless sharkfin soup bowls all over the world.

We first encountered the blue sharks on a trip in 2010 when diving with them at the Azores archipelago.

Back then the shark tourism industry in this Portugese archipelago was just starting and we wanted to see it for our selves.

On our best day we had 12 blue sharks and 1 mako shark paying us a visit. It was awesome. Last year was not a good year for shark diving in the Azores. It seemed to be more difficult for operators to find the animals.

Maybe it was the temperature of the water, maybe it was the currents that ran differently, who knows. One thing I know for sure.

The (longline) fisheries around the Azores must have a detrimental effect on the population of sharks around the islands as well. I hope that shark tourism changes the reputation of the sharks and also will help saving these animals.

Especially in the Azores financial profit to shark tourism should be a motivation for the Government to take notice and act. 

In Mexico in 2014 we contacted Oscar Ortiz of CaboExpeditions when we heard of his new endeavour for setting up a new expedition finding blue sharks.

He took us on a trip for a bargain even though he had not perfected the blue shark expedition yet. We might even be able to judge and help him perfect it..

There was not much to be perfected :-) It took only 45 minutes before the first blue shark came in, following the scent of fish blood coming from our chum slick.

The visibility was as good or better than the Azores.

An interesting thing I noticed was that the sharks in Mexico had a kind of remora (Remora osteochir?) stuck to their body that I had never seen on the blue sharks of the Azores or anywhere else  (see the above pic & crop).

Oscar joined us in the water as he is an avid photographer himself too. I even used one of his images to spice up my "about"-page (hope he doesn't mind). We enjoyed the freediving with the animals a lot, hopefully you'll enjoy the images.

Hopefully the sharks will come back in the Azores this summer as much as when we were there in 2010. It would be a shame if the shark tourism there collapses before the sharks themselves profit from a booming non-fishing industry.

And we certainly want to come back once to the Azores for all of the spectacular wildlife they have and the friends we have made there!

Note: I am not stating in this blog that there is no longlining in the Pacific or Mexican waters. The same stuff is happening anywhere.

We just did not see longliners in the Pacific when we were out at sea. This was different in the Azores..

joostvanuffelen's picture
About the Author:
Joost loves the oceans, travelling and (underwater)photography. Combining those three elements he creates ocean art, travel reports and ocean photo stories...

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