Swimming with Humpback Whales, Kingdom of Tonga

For as long as I can remember, Hayley and I have been dreaming of going to the Kingdom of Tonga Humpback Mother and Calf in Low Visibilityfollowing the annual migration of humpback whales that visit the calm, clear waters off Vavau and Ha’apai Islands. Migration Media have now been given the opportunity to continue their journey of following annual migrations of our oceans megafauna by teaming up with Sandy Beach Resort on the island of Ha’apai, Tonga, where we will be able to spend the entire humpback whale season on the water, filming and photographing guests from Sandy Beach Resort and the Humpback Whales. Having spent plenty of time in the water with cetaceans elsewhere in the world, we are very aware of the limitations of trying to swim with them whilst they are on the move or in unfavorable conditions in either rough oceans or poor visibility. We will of course miss our beautiful Ningaloo home, Coral Bay in Australia’s North-West but the lure of being in Tonga waters for the whole humpback whale season, running from July to October, we will have the unique opportunity to experience these majestic creatures everyday in amazing conditions allowing us to capture incredible natural behavior of these incredible ocean giants.

Humpback Whale Breach

Located between the main island of Tongatapu and Vavau, Ha’apai is extremely quiet with only a few resorts and operators meaning guests at Sandy Beach Resort can spend their entire time enjoying the whales and the ocean with maximum in the water time experiences the whales for themselves. The whales will be more relaxed with minimal boat traffic and disturbance therefore allowing us to observe natural behavior all season. The Humpback Whales use the waters of Tonga to raise their new born calves away from rough seas, predators and illegal whaling ships!

Dolphins playing with pod Humpback WhalesArmed with a new Deep-X Underwater Housing from Pawel Achtel for the Red Epic 6k Dragon combined with the unrivaled Nikonos 15mm underwater lens, a Phantom 3 Pro 4k quadcopter drone and two Nikon d810’s in Nauticam and Aqautech housings with new GoPro Hero 4 Black editions, we will be aiming to capture some incredible imagery on a daily basis. Some of the most exciting humpback whales behavior to observed must be a heat run where a number of mature males (bulls) will compete for the females’ attention and jostling for pole position to mate with the female which can be quite aggressive at times. We will also have a hydrophone connected to the camera which will allow for underwater sound recording of the whales singing and communication which can be heard from miles away.

Very exciting times ahead from the Migration Media team as we will also be onboard for the trials in Western Australia this year which could become a new experience for visitors to the ningaloo reef following the whale shark season from March til July.

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