Archive for August 30th, 2010

Some Tongan Whales

Monday, August 30th, 2010

We had a fine overnight sail from Luahiapo island in Vava’u down to the Ha’apai group of islands, 60 nm to the south.  As we approached the first of the Ha’apai islands early in the morning we were treated to the sight of humpback whales slapping the sea with their tails, and the sounds of their grunts emanating from the water.

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We’re trying hard to get a good picture of these whales but it’s not easy.

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There really isn’t much to see of a whale unless they breach. When this happens we stand slack jawed in the cockpit in awe of the force launching something the size of Bint al Khamseen 30 ft in the air. Until we receive the miraculous coincidence of flying whale, camera in hand, focus, shutter and reflex, then you fair reader will have to make due with blurry tails, whale bumps…

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… spouts

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and fin waving.

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The good news is that Tonga is absolutely rotten with whales and we have a decent chance of getting a good picture before it’s all over.  We see them every day and often  hear them singing when we are in the water.

K missed a great photo opportunity while trolling in the dinghy outside the reef off Meama island.

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It was a glassy calm morning, and minding his own business, he was, with images of mahi and tuna dancing in his head …

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…when a great whale surfaced 50 ft away on course to plow right under the dinghy.

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K and the whale continued to surprise each other for a hour and a half as they went about there respective tasks outside the reef.

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In full disclosure, the weak documentation was due in equal parts to fear, adrenaline, and the wrong camera. It’s a very humbling thing to be in a small blow-up boat miles out in the wide Pacific with a huge beast popping up here and there.  An experience not soon forgotten.

19°45.70’S 174°31.90’W   31-Aug-10 05:05 UTC