Category: Tonga


My mind keeps wandering back to a mere 30 second whale encoutner that leaves me with a sense of profound gratitude and wonder.

We dipped into what seemed like a deep blue silence. Hovering at the surface, we were greeted by the erie song of a humpback whale in the vast South Pacific Ocean surrounding Tonga. If you are near a singing whale, the sound comes from within as it pulsates through your fluid watery body. The tones literally flows through you and you can feel it reverberating through your core. Some people describe a sensation deep in their chest or felt through their bones.

The lone male humpback whale had just dove and was singing below us. Then suddenly, the whale appeared perhaps 100 feet from us. With a mulititude of directions to choose from, the singer swam slowly towards us and continued to sing. However, he seemed to turn down the volume as he glided just a few feet by us, as if to protect us from the deafening sound of his melodious song.

Only the male humpback whales sing an elaborate song and primarily during the breeding and calving season. While much is still unknown, its thought that air is pumped through sacs attached to the larynx region and then reverberates out through their massive throat. It is truly one of the greatest concerts on earth which was shared among an intrepid crew with www.bluewaterventures.org!

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IMG_4024Over a 34 year career of teaching coral reef ecology to groups, Tonga 2019 will be remembered as a truly  unforgettable underwater exploration.

Each day, we observed new reef  behaviors as well as a  kaleidoscope of colors exploding below us.

I was thrilled to offer dawn snorkels before our full day whale swims. As the  sun set across the South Pacific, we then snorkeled again as the crepuscular  feeders began to emerge. Thrilling!

While our  whales encounters were again so profound, I was absolutely rejuvenated by the beauty of Tonga’s coral reefs and the curious discoveries of my group. They were truly keen observers.

Please join us below the water at www.bluewaterventures.org.

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As I reflect upon our recent expediton to the South Pacific Kingdom of Tonga, I am grateful for not only the whales and reefs but for the rich cultural interfacing that has become such an intrigal part of our program. We danced, visited schools and a weaver’s  home. We drank Kava and shared our songs as well as enjoyed the songs of the  local  people. We  shared our personal insights each night as we felt embraced by the beautiful people of Tonga.

Cn3DBQ4OT5SF9QR6iBI7ig_thumb_feba The Tongans  takes great pride in their Polyneisan heritage and this is expressed daily through their language, dress, food and culture. The whales and coral reefs are marvelous, but our Tongan friends remain  close to our hearts. We are so grateful for the deep connections we are making. IMG_4235

Thanks to all of our wonderful hosts~Matafonua Lodge (Ha’apai), The Hideaway (Eua Island),  Mala Island Resort (Vava’u),  Kiko’s Whale Swims (Eua island) The crew of the Ashlee G and Llena (Vava’u).

Song of a Humpback Whale

http://www.bluewaterventures.org

Dipping into what seems like a deep blue silence, I am greeted by the erie song of a humpback whale in the vast south pacific ocean surrounding Tonga. If you are near a singing whale, the sound comes from within as it pulsates through your fluid watery body. The tones literally flows through you and you can feel it reverberating through your core. Some people describe a sensation in their chest or felt in their bones. Off the islands of Vava’u I felt it seeping through my body, pulsating and tingling. I dove deep into the blue abyss alone but not, listening and in awe.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Only the male humpback whales sing an elaborate song and primarily during the breeding and calving season. While much is still unknown, its thought that air is pumped through sacs attached to the larynx region and then reverberates out through their massive throat. It is truly one of the greatest concerts on earth which was shared among an intrepid crew with www.bluewaterventures.org! Thank you whales…..

 

http://www.bluewaterventures.org

It was such an honor to share our humpback whale experience with Ash and Shona, our incredible guides with Tongan Expeditions. Ash is from the the village of Whangara on the east coast of New Zealand where the Whale Rider movie was filmed. His life has been spent observing whales from above and below. Ash is a full blooded Maori and Shona is 1/2 Maori, both so attune to whale energy. It was an incredible experience to watch them in the water respectfully interacting with a baby humpback whale. Though a little blurry, note that the young whale is guarded by both mama whale as well as an escort adult whale.

Humpback whale escorts are a true mystery of nature and so intriguing to observe from below. During our swims, we had several encounters with escorts. Several snorkelers received a clear message to keep a distance from baby whale when an escort posiitoned itself between mother/calf and humans. Though no physical touch or overt aggression, the escort would deliver a gentle reminder of their immense power as it established underwater boundaries. We are humbled and in awe…..www.bluewaterventures.org

http://www.bluewaterventures.org

Encounter With Friendly Humpback Whales of Tonga
The South Pacific Nation of Tonga is one of the few places in the world where in water whale encounters are officially sanctioned.
Humpback whales were hunted to near extinction in Tongan waters until 1978.
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Today a whale watching industry is helping to stimulate the local economy and the majestic whales are fully protected. The level of interaction was dictated by the whales. As we backed away they approached closer.
As we slid into the water, two presumably adolescent male humpback whales initiated a close encounter with us.
We departed Tonga with a sense of profound awe and appreciation.
Thank you to the kind people of Tonga and to the magnificent humpback whales.
http://www.bluewaterventures.org

Encounter with a Humpback Whale

The California population of humpback whales may exceed 50 feet in length and weigh over 80,000 pounds. When food is available, they may consume over 4000 pounds daily trapping their prey in fringed baleen plates that hang from their upper jaw. Humpback whales that give birth in the South Pacific region of Tonga feed in the rich Antarctica polar region and may weigh as much as 50 tons or 100,000 pounds.
Dipping into the indigo blue deep water around the islands of Tonga, it was somewhat difficult to grasp how big these incredible mammals were. Snorkeling next to them it was clear you were with one of the biggest animals on earth but size was harder to determine against the deep blue background. However, during one memorable swim a mother humpback whale glided below us to escort her calf away from the potentially dangerous shallow reef that the young whale was heading for. As the mature female whale cruised below us we could see how massive she was against the shallow reef. It was truly one of those moments of awe and wonder watching a graceful, gentle and gigantic creature care for its young calf. Join our next Whale encounter in the lagoons of Baja with http://www.bluewaterventures.org

http://www.bluewaterventures.org.

Encounter with a Baby Whale
There are just a few places in the world where in water encounters with whales are permitted and regulated. In a nation where humpback whales were virtually decimated by a whaling industry just decades ago, their population is slowly recovering. Supporting a local economy through regulated whale swims is helping to preserve a fragile population of whales that spend ‘their winter” in the archipelago kingdom of Tonga.

As with all of our encounters, this young and very playful whale initiated the contact with us. It happened repeatedly for well over an hour. Every 10-15 minutes or so, the mother would appear out of the deep blue and escort her baby away. We would simply wait and within a few minutes the mother would drop the baby off for more interaction.

We were brought to tears on several occasions, so moved by the experience. Thanks to a wonderful scouting team, the kind people of Tonga and thank you Mama Whales !