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A Magical Seabed Safari

 

Journalist Hans Peter Roth shares his final blog from his recent trip to the Faroe Islands.

12 hours before I did not even dream of it. Now I am in a beautiful little cove in Hoyvík near the capital Tórshavn. On top the sun comes out of the clouds. The night before I’d met David, a local with a Divemaster license, at a private party. He has invited me to a dive here. Off we go!

The equipment is heavy but needed here in this 9°C cold water. We are swallowed by the cove water. The day before I have received the book “The Faroe Islands – a magical Seabed Safari,” by the Faroese author, diver, and photographer Ingi Sørensen. It is a breathtaking illustrated book about the underwater world of the North Atlantic Archipelago on 62 degrees North. And now, all of a sudden, I am in the middle of all of this, surrounded by these pictures of a mystical, magical underwater world in 3D, where rippled sandy spots contrast with forests of billowing tang. Everything shines in surprisingly intense colors. A flounder escapes after having been discovered in the sand despite of his camouflage. The tang shelters scores of young fish and a spider crab climbs up a stem, while a small swarm of cod slowly passes by in the open water. It is a magical, quiet seabed safari, just as described and illustrated in Ingi’s book. An unforgettable unexpected gift under David’s considerate, experienced guidance, in a place like from a fairy tale both above and under water.

The Faroes – an insiders’ tip for scuba divers? Undoubtedly, with its clear water, good visibility, rich fish grounds and spectacular underwater landscapes. What more to be expected! It needn’t be the Maldives. An insiders’ tip indeed, and not yet discovered by the diving community. Up to now there is not much infrastructure. And certainly the Faroes will never become a mecca for divers. But people who are looking for something kind of exotic, new, beautiful and extraordinary on their doorstep (in Europe) and yet are not afraid of cold water and the changing Nordic weather conditions, will like it here.

A sustainable small scale diving tourism with strict eco standards may certainly not be the least desirable thing. It could be beneficial to the economy of this small nation. At the same time friends of scuba diving will hardly ever be friends of whale driving. From our perspective they may be the “right” tourists. They would rather observe living whales. Whale watching is just another opportunity, by the way. One day it may be even possible to peacefully encounter live pilot whales above or under water. I pull myself out of the water. The diving equipment weighs heavily. But I feel light and free.