Formigas & Dollabarat

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Local long known for unique dives and encounters with large pelagic species, the small group of islets Formigas lies between the islands of São Miguel and Santa Maria. With only 165 meters long and 11 high, indicated by a small lighthouse, the islets are within 42 nautical miles of Vila Franca do Campo, 33 nautical miles off the southwestern tip of San Miguel.

Due to its remote location and the possibility of strong ocean currents, this dive requires a high degree of experience on the part of divers, and it’s only possible to make this trip with very favorable sea conditions.

There are several dive sites around Formigas. The most frequented places are: The Wall and the northern tip of this small islands known as places of passage of large schools of pelagic and a small down to 8 meters depth located about 50 meters South of Formigas known as a place of passage of manta rays.

Upon arrival at the site and still on board the vessel you can see immediately the known crystalline waters by offering the best conditions of visibility of the archipelago, the curious shoals of fish – trigger fish, white trevallies and Plaice, which in this location can reach large dimensions.

The background characterized by steep slopes and vertical walls in some places falls steeply to depths exceeding 60-70 meters, often offering small platforms in the share of 15 - 20 meters ideal for the observation of large schools of pelagic fish. From 15 meters deep, there are many crevices and canyons harboring moray eels, large groupers, sea bass, and barred hogfish among the coral - great trellises black plentiful.

The seamount of Dollabarat is located just 3 nautical miles of the islets of the Formigas. Its name comes from the name of the Basque captain, Pierre Dollabarat, which marked the first time the existence of this bank.

Your shallower point located at 5 meters deep, however there are several large areas with depths varying between 8 and 15 meters, falling steeply to depths exceeding 30 and 50 meters at the ends of downtown.

Due to the low depth that exists in this bank, it is also possible on the boat, see the bottom covered with animal life and often greenish shadows of manta rays gliding over the lowlands in the days of calm sea.

This amazing dive where the visibility reigns, you can observe a great diversity of species, many of them is declining in other parts of the world and especially in the Atlantic. Among rock crevices are several species of moray eels and gorges were hide bigger fish such as large groupers, Almaco Jacks and barred hogfish.

As like in the small islands of Formigas the great attraction of this dive site is the possibility of encounters with large pelagic species. Over the abyss, which involves the crown, are observed frequently a variety of schools of larger specie, such as white trevallies with exceptional dimensions, as well as  Almaco Jacks, Yellowmouth barracuda, and migratory pelagics such as tunas, and wahoo’s . Often among the large schools of fish in fast moving, slowly groups of manta rays and even some species of sharks, such as the Galapagos shark, the hammerhead shark and blue shark.

Due to exceptional visibility conditions and its variety of wildlife, ranging from small most common species to larger pelagics, without forgetting the mantas and sharks, the marine reserves Dollabarat Bank and Formigas Islands, becomes one of the best diving spots in the Azores .