As we finish our time with humpback whales this summer, trip leaders Lesley Rochat and Amos Nachoum share their encounters and photographs. Join us next year in Tonga for your own experiences with these gentle, curious giants.

humpback whale

Lesley Rochat Witnesses the Humpback Circle of Life

I dreamed of it for a long time, coming to Tonga to dive with the Humpback Whales, and when Amos Nachoum asked me to lead this BigAnimals Global Expedition for him, I did not hesitate. The reason I so badly wanted to do this is because there are some things one just has to do in this lifetime, and being in the presence of these majestic animals, having an opportunity to swim with them, and to photograph them, is high on that list.

Every year, the whales migrate to Tonga to give birth or mate. In these last few days I’ve seen mothers and their calves, some followed by their escorts, I’ve listened to the hauntingly beautiful sound of a singer, and I’ve witnessed a heat run of up to 7 males. Sharing these experiences with our guests has been magical.

It’s been an amazing few days, spending seven hours a day at sea. Back on our remote little island at our special, family-owned resort, the afternoon rests are welcomed knowing that tomorrow is another busy day at sea. Sometimes for our lunch break, we head for one of the many small islands that surround us to explore reefs or caves. And then the evening sky, oh my, just as beautiful as what lies below the waves!

humpback whale

Amos Nachoum Befriended Fredy, a Humpback Calf

In Blue Lagoon, Vava’u in Tonga, these were ten days to remember and surely a trip to return to next season. We were awed by amazing highlights, and encounters with an unconditionally friendly calf Fredy (we named him for his behavior). Fredy stayed with us, circling around as we swam. We had to paddle back as he placed his chin on my camera, and waved his pectoral fins above and under my guests.

Of course you can not leave Vava’u without a sweet, 25-minutes exclusive swim with mother and calf. Let the images lead you. This is how good it is here during the past week, earlier than anyone else. We are alone with the whales, who are at peace showing us their tender moments and who allow us to get close.

And at the end of the day, we return to Blue Lagoon to the colorful and heart-warming family of Maata, Feleti, Uli, Tapu, Otto and Henry. So good to see them again for another year’s adventure! At BigAnimals Global Expeditions, we introduce you to the in-water culture and the local, human culture, too. After all, we are all connected. We work with Blue Lagoon now for over 12 years.

If you want to know more about BigAnimals Global Expeditions’ outstanding humpback encounters, email

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