Winter comes early in the Antarctic and by May each year the humpback whales of Tonga know that it is time for them to leave their rich feeding grounds and start their annual migration north in to the Pacific Ocean.
The “Tongan Tribe” will swim some 6,000 kms from the Antarctic, up past the east coast of New Zealand and along the sub-sea volcanic arch that forms the bedrock for the 170 plus islands of the Tongan archipelago.
Their annual migration is one of the largest and longest animal movements in the world and the humpback whales of Tonga make that incredible journey because it is integral to their very survival as a species!
For while the Southern Ocean around the Antarctic provides the perfect feeding grounds for the humpback whales of Tonga, they migrate to the warm sheltered waters of the Tongan archipelago to breed and give birth.
So every year, from around the end of July through to October, humpbacks are a common sight across the archipelago and a fairly significant whale-watching industry has been established. But what is really special about Tonga is that small groups are allowed in to the water to swim with these very special creatures.
Last year I spent three weeks based from the small town of Neiafu in the northern island group of Vavaʻu to experience the humpback whales of Tonga first-hand. It really was an incredible experience and I have since documented it all on my underwater site www.indopacificimages.com.
You can explore all about the different types of encounters you can have with the humpbacks, together with an overview of whale-watching in Tonga and the incredible annual migration, plus insights in to Tonga, it’s culture and the logistics involved in visiting the country.
It is all laid out for you in the Complete Guide to the Humpback Whales of Tonga.
I also had a 10 page article published in the global diving magazine X-Ray, which also used one of my images for the very much coveted front cover…
You can use this link to download the Humpback Whales of Tonga article.