Swimming with whales in Tonga islands
13 August 2012
Snorkeling with whales is probably one of the most exciting excursion that Tonga offers and, indeed, Tonga is one of the few places in the world where you can swim with whales in perfect safety, admiring these cetaceans directly from inside the water. Tonga is also an excellent place for simple whale watching tours from outside the waters, thanks the the large number of whales that congregate here from late July to October. This page contains lot of whale photos from our snorkeling trip.
The Kingdom of Tonga, in the heart of South Pacific ocean, is one of the few places in the world where you can swim with the whales. The whale watching and snorkeling excursion is done aboard a variety of boats, from small rubber boats, to luxury catamarans.During the austral winter, more precisely between late July and October, many humpback whales (probably several thousands) pass close to Tonga, either because these islands lie along migratory routes, either because the place offers a safe and protected environment for the youngest whales and their mothers. Soon after leaving Foa island, still inside the waters of Haapai, we spot several whales.
Humpback whales photos. A quick dip in the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, and we found ourselves in front of a mother whale with her calf, the latter of about 4 meters in length. Swimming with whales in this safe and friendly environment is an experience that you will never forget.
A picture from our snorkeling with whales excursion.
Humpback whales pictures.Swimming with whales turns to be even more exciting when we realize that a mother whale and her calf have accepted our presence and begin to play with us. While snorkeling with whales, is always extremely important to not disturb these cetaceans, waiting for them to come in order to investigate about you, and never chasing them.This baby whale appears particularly inquisitive and his mother lets him to play with us.
The size of the mother whale is imposing.
More humpback whales photo.Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is derived from the Greek and means "great wings" with reference to the long pectoral fins that can reach one third of the total length of the animal and are the longest of all cetaceans.Tonga offers not only the possibility to swim with whales, but also the opportunity to have one of the world's best whale watch tour, observing the whales from outside the water in some small boat.
Humpback whale photo. Adult humpback whales can be up to 12 to 16 meters long and can weigh up to 30 tons.
Images of whales. After playing a bit with us, these humpback whales seem to move away into the darkness of the Pacific Ocean.
Humpback whale picture.In depth of the ocean, we can see the outline of often another adult whale: he is also called the "escort" male, because he accompanies and protects a mother whale and her calf. He isn't the actual father of the calf, but just an adult male who has adopted the family. The reasons for this behaviour are not entirely clear to scientists. Fortunately, the male escort whale seems to accept us with no problems, as he does not show any sign of aggressive behaviour.
More photos of whales. Soon after, the mother whale and her calf appear again from the depths and come here to swim again with us.
Photo of whale calf swimming to us.
The whales communicate with each other with a complex song of which little is known. Click HERE
to listen to the song of whales
, audible at a great distance by simply placing the head in water.
The baby humpback whale comes very close, so I take the opportunity to photograph some parts of the skin.
Remora fish (top pictures) and algae growing below the whale's head.
Mother whale and her calf are so at ease, that suddenly stop swimming, close their eyes and start to sleep. At this time, the calf has found natural protection sleeping under the head of the mother.
I swim slowly to the whales, to photograph some details of the skin, nose and eyes.
Baby whale picture.
In the Kingdom of Tonga it's not only spectacular to snorkel with whales, but it's also very exciting to observe the them from outside the water, as the place offers one of the world's best whale watching experience.