Behind the Lens: In the Azores, Swimming with Wild Dolphins

The grand green mountains of the Azores are more than enough reason to visit this archipelago of volcanic Portuguese islands. But below the waterline of the surrounding ocean also lies a vast marine world, rich with intelligent wildlife.

Off the coast of São Miguel, the largest of these nine inhabited islands, pods of common dolphins frolic in the Atlantic. Lucia Griggi, Silversea’s Director of Onboard Photography, was lucky enough to encounter this species on camera — a moment she describes as pure magic.

“We had a fantastic shoot where we had a wealth of dolphins that were very interactive,” says Griggi, who ventured out in a Zodiac with a fellow filmmaker during her first visit to the Azores. “I didn’t really know what to do at first because I’ve never had the opportunity to shoot so many dolphins at one time. It was quite overwhelming. When I first jumped in the water, I froze because I was just immersed in hundreds and hundreds of dolphins. Then I got [into] a pattern and realized that I was just part of their daily routine.”

“It was really humbling because I got the sense that they acknowledged me. Sometimes they would swim past, turn their heads and their eye would look into mine, then they’d quickly scamper off.”

Griggi saw wild dolphins going about their day in the North Atlantic Ocean./Lucia Griggi

The most affirming part of this wildlife interaction, however, was when Griggi witnessed a large pod of dolphins approaching at high speed — and then they swam around her.

“The moment for me was at the end when there was a huge pod beelining for us, and we just froze. They split on either side of us and I shot with my camera following one direction, and my colleague followed the other. They were going so fast, and I felt their presence whisk past me. Basically I blinked and they had disappeared.”

Interestingly, she says, “It wasn’t until I looked over the footage that I realized how beautiful that moment was.”

Want to experience magical sights like this when visiting the Azores? Start exploring these Silversea Mediterranean cruises, including those that visit Portugal or the Azores. Then, check out more stunning photos taken by Silversea photographers in the Behind the Lens series.