Sea Images

Tonga — the Humpback Whales

Years ago, there was a boat serving divers in Fiji called the Matagi Princess.  After a few seasons it moved to the Solomon Islands and worked a few seasons there. In the early 90s I was approached by the owners; they had moved the boat to Tonga to have a clear field, and were hoping to develop the diving with humpback whales. I had already done Tonga’s humpbacks shore-based the previous year, operating out of a small beach resort in Nuku ‘alofa. I loved the idea of using a live-aboard to roam more freely, so we marketed groups to go there.

By one of those coincidences, a friend of mine from Tokyo, Tony Wu, was on the very first trip. Tony is now a famous underwater photographer who runs annual trips to Tonga on his own. He has done some brilliant work out there.

The humpbacks are approached on snorkel, by slipping unobtrusively into the water ahead of them as they are swimming. It takes many attempts sometimes to get even some passing shots of the whales, because they are very protective of their calves.

On rare occasions they will approach humans, but more often they will begin to move away as soon as they detect us.

Here’s a story from the mid-90s.

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Divers Enter Giant Cavern
Diver In Giant Cavern
Mother Humpback And Calf 3
Mother Humpback And Calf 2
Mother Humpback And Calf 5
Mother Humpback And Calf 4
Mother Humpback And Calf 6


Oldies but Goodies!!!

Color variant of a Perideriaon

Small fish protected in rocky crevice

Clownfish A. Perideriaon

Soft coral carpet

Disc Butterflyfish peeking in

Diver swims over coral sturcture

Blue Tangs hover above sheltering coral
Serine Box Jellyfish in open water
Mother and her calf blissfully passing
Teardrop Butterflyfish
Modified 08.14.13