Humpback Whale Expedition
Ha’apai, Tonga, August 2019
We just returned from Ha’apai, Tonga for our humpback whale expedition. It was a fun two weeks, and we experienced some amazing moments and witnessed new behaviors that are rarely seen and heard. It is believed by researchers that humpback whales are solitary animals, that once they leave their mothers, they are loners. However, my experience with them tells me a different story. As far as I can tell, they are very social animals, where touch, interaction and communication are extremely important to them.
I am not sure what those researchers see or how they study these animals, but when you see them in the water, it is completely different than the animals I have heard about. Here, we witnessed male humpbacks practicing for a future heat run. However, during this practice run, they also looked a lot like humpbacks playing and socializing as well. They would swim hard, as if they were racing, then slow down, then slap the water, then start racing again, then swim under our boat, rolling and touching each other constantly. They would swim up to us, check us out, then swim off, only to return to our boat and do it all again. They did this for hours, with no real direction (or purpose), that they were going, they just looked like boys, just having some fun. It was amazing to watch.
The calfs during this trip were also super playful, with the mom’s very tolerant of us and them. It was so great spending time in the water with them again. The mom’s spent most of the time resting on the bottom, conserving important energy, while the babies swam up and down, rolling, and playing on the surface when they came up to breathe. A few of the babies, wanted desperately to play with us and they would come in close to say hi… like really closely say hi. Every once in a while we were treated to one of the mom’s coming up and sleeping on the surface. We watched these big beauties sleeping, while the babies, would play and swim around them, disturbing their sleep, seeking out attention. I can say without a doubt, spending time in the water with them is one of the most amazing and special things you will ever do in the water. It is truly beyond what words can express.
Here is a photo album I am proudly sharing of a few memories and moments from this season’s adventure, hope you enjoy.
For me, every place we visit, there is more than just the main attraction animal we came to experience. The places we visit always has more wildlife, both big and small to capture images of. They are often over looked, but I love looking for them and trying to share them with you all.