Fifteen hundred miles due east of Cape Cod and a thousand miles from Lisbon, the Azores lie in the middle of the Atlantic, scattered arbitrarily in the ocean. Portugal claimed these islands in the fifteenth century; Columbus called here to hear Mass on his way home from America.

Most people would be hard pressed to find them on a map, falling as they do between the gutter of an atlas’s pages. Yet these nine dots represent vast sea mounts greater than the Himalayas, a spine running the length of the earth in an invisible geography.

Ponta da Ferraria, 2018.

There are no friendly beaches of golden sand, only black rocks of bubbling lava arrested by the ocean. This is where the world is coming apart. Three islands lie on the Eurasian plate, three on the African, and the rest on the American plate; an act of perpetual tectonic division in which the westernmost isles inch closer to America and further from Europe each year.

Piscias Caneiros, 2018.

Philip Hoare, The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea, Ecco, HarperCollins Publishers, 2010.