Category: Tonga


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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.
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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

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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 !