Vava'u Island Group

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This was the sixth and last 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 went to sleep worried about the weather, but woke to calm seas and warm sun. Our send-off day featured three visits in the water, with the last being especially fabulous! The visibility was quite poor, but the interaction more than made up for it. (At a detriment to our photography…)

We first came upon a female humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) calf and her mother. The calf wanted to play quite a lot, but was shushed and shephered away by the mother. Playtime over!

Our second encounter was with a mature female and another whale of unknown sex. She didn't want to stay with us—all pictures are of her in motion.

Our last encounter, and the last encounter of this expedition, was a wonderful one. We came upon a mature female along with a (possibly, but not definitively) male. She was incredibly active, breaching six times in a row before we climbed into the water! Pec slapping and tail slapping galore.

She then (tired out?) proceeded to air fluke, where she stayed vertically with her fluke out of the water, and we piled in to the water. She gave us plenty of time to photography, then slowly took off. We stayed with her, and then she did it again! The (possible) male stayed out of sight beneath, but came up with her once or twice.

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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