While 2020 has obviously been a very slow year due to the Coronavirus pandemic, good safety practices and strict requirements for entering the Azores allowed for a joyful and successful diving season in Pico, at least in the summer.
Blue water diving with Blue sharks, with a visibility of over 30 metres (photo by Martijn Schouten)
For one thing, shark season 2020 was simply fantastic. We often had 10 or more Blue sharks in a single dive and at least 3 Shark Expeditions with over 20 sharks!
Also, we had Makos in almost 30% of the dives, a massive increase compared to the last few seasons, where the Mako had become a rare sighting.
A Shortfin Mako turning up for the joy of divers and photographers (photo by Martijn Schouten)
While we basically lost July due to the effects of the pandemic, in August and September we were able to run many Princess Alice Expeditions and, not surprisingly, the divers who joined us had amazing encounters with the legendary Devilray (Mobula tarapacana).
Once again, it was a great year for marine life in general and for large pelagics in particular.
Diving with mobulas at Princess Alice seamount (photo by Martijn Schouten)
The unexpected highlight was having Whale sharks hanging around Pico for a very long time, which actually never happened before. Read the story here.
On August 23rd we even had a Smooth hammerhead!
Many species of rays call Pico home and in 2020 they were just as common as usual, all season long. It is a reminder that, while Pico is certainly world-famous for its offshore diving, coastal diving in our waters is very exciting too!
Eagle ray (photo by Martijn Schouten)
The best time for Shark Diving and Princess Alice in Pico is between July and mid-October. Actually, shark diving is good also in autumn but, as weather and sea conditions get more tricky, less divers appear to be willing to travel to Pico at that time of the year.
The abundance of mobulas, on the other hand, start to decrease in late September and by end of October (sometimes earlier) they are completely gone from Princess Alice.
Another great dive with Blue sharks (photo by Martijn Schouten)
While we all hope Covid-19 will become a thing of a past soon, season 2020 showed that Pico remains a fully viable and safe destination also in times of coronavirus.
We look forward to a great 2021 season and, once again, we are ready to rock! Are you? 😉
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