Thursday, 25 October 2018

Swimming with Whales and Other Close Encounters

One of the highlights of a trip to Tonga is of course the humpback whales.  They migrate from their feeding grounds in the Antarctic to Tonga to give birth to their calves every year.  While most of the whale watching industry is in Vava'u, there appeared to be more whales in the Ha'apai and and there certainly were less tour operators.  After doing some research and meeting the owners of Matafonua Resort (check out their website if only for their great photos), we decided to book a day out whale watching with them.  They are professional and have a very respectful attitude towards the whales.

Liz videoing the mum and calf.
The first few photos are from our whale swim day and then some photos of whales from our travels around the Ha'apai.

The calf looking at Liz.
The mum and calf swim past Johnathan.  Looks like he is getting cold.

Trying to get into a good position for a photo.

That's better.  A better perspective looking up at the mum and calf.

The photo from below.
More trying to getting a photo but not getting in their way.

Mum and calf.

The mum nudging the baby to the surface.

Nap time for the baby.

and then swimming down to nuzzle with mum.

More nuzzling.

The calf seemed to enjoy swimming around the mum and showing off his talents

The calf seemed to enjoy swimming around the mum and showing off his talents

Being watched by the whale

During August we constantly saw and heard the whales no matter what we were doing.  Going for a SUP trip - see whales.  Going spearfishing - hear whale song and once got buzzed by a mum and calf at high speed.  Going for a hike - see whales in the distance ! Kiting - more whales !
In this case a calf decided to come over and check out our dingy as we were coming back from snorkeling at Ofolanga Island.

and then the very big male escort swam very close under our dingy.

Hanging on the anchor chain listening to whale song.  At about six feet it was like a switch being turned on.

Almost always whales visible from the Fluenta while at anchor.
In this case, we are motoring through a calm and I saw whales off to port.  We slowed down and altered to starboard to give them more room and what did they do but dive down and come up close on our starboard side !


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