Vava'u Island Group

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This was the second day on a humpback whale-watching expedition with Tony Wu in the Vava'u constellation of islands, Tonga. To skip right to a selection of colour-corrected images from this set, jump to the final article.

We took off early in the morning into a calm sea with scattered clouds. A great start!

We set upon a group of males almost straightaway over a shallow reef. (I dove down—about 10 metres.) One male was a singer, making lots of whale song. The other, pictured, was more silent—it slipped right underneath us! No pictures came out well from this encounter, unfortunately: the water was too murky.

The second group, and constituting all of these pictures, was an incredible encounter with a rambunctious male calf, his mother, and a singing escort. This encounter was outside of the island group, with the water being visibly clearer. It stands as the highlight, photographically, of the entire trip.

We spent several hours with this group, and had what can be understated as a meaningful stay. The calf spent plenty of time rolling around and playing with us. From time to time he would descend to nuzzle his mother, diving beneath her head. The escort hung around at depth, making prodigous whale song, and only moved when the mother moved off.

We free dove a fair amount around the calf, but were careful not to trespass around the escort.

If you'd like print-quality versions of any image, please contact Kristaps with your request. Except where otherwise noted, content on this page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

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