Wow what an amazing trip. Incredible encounters with amazing mammals.
For me it was an experience i will never forget and I actually get to go back next season for more.
So the rest of this dive masters diary has been written by a guest, Sarah Fisk, who travelled to Tonga for a once in a lifetime experience.
"I am hardly a true NAI'A veteran, having only gone on 3 trips, but coming on board always feels like coming home, even in Tonga. I am not sure how it is possible for the crew to be as happy to see me as I am to see them, but they were. Renee and I started meeting our fellow passengers on the plane from Fiji but it wasn't until evening introductions that we realized how international the group was!! People from all over the world here on the NAI'A for the same reason: to meet some Humpback whales up close and personal. We were not disappointed! Within minutes of leaving the harbor, we saw whales slapping their pectoral fins in what looked to us anthropomorphic humans like a friendly wave.
It only got better from there. The next day we were in the water with a mother and calf, the day after that we saw adults "dancing". They twisted and spiraled with each other as they swam down down down and then up again as they passed by us. It was so beautiful and astonishing that we just stayed there bobbing in the sea, looking for them until, minutes later, we heard Koroi call from the skiff - "Here they come, they are coming back!" And sure enough, out of the blue depths our 3 dancers returned to show us "Act II".
With no real way to understand why they would do this, we were simply grateful and enjoyed the repeat performance.
Along with calm anchorages on the lee side of beautiful islands with beaches for evening walking, shelling and rugby games, there were no days without whales above and below the surface. We even saw the same mother and calf that had thrilled the guests on the trip before us! We have Sam's video and Mark's photos of both trips to make the positive ID.
Being in the water with the whales is life changing. Something about a creature so large and so in control when you are not. As I am flippering pathetically about and breathing through a straw a huge animal which could easily hurt or kill me chooses instead to watch me calmly, coming as close as s/he wants to, to get a good look. Having such an encounter, not once, but over and over again and over again, leaves no doubt that protecting these brothers and sisters of ours is crucial to our own well being."
It was a truly awesome trip. There were too many encounters to write about and Sarah has summed up what a moving experience it was to swim with Humpback Whales in Tonga. The more people who wish to swim with humpback whales and spend their tourist dollars in Tonga, the longer they will be protected and observed with respect..........
"An amazing adventure!!. We had a great time - great trip, great boat, great crew and really great whale encounters!."
Geoff & Raewyn
'I travelled around the world for whales and we found them. thank you very much!!. The crew is fantastic, the guides are great and the food delicious. Vinaka vaka levu, Danke & Thank you all!."
"Truly an adventure of a lifetime. I feel incredibly blessed and much richer for the expierience.'
“Lomaiviti reefs are in extremely good condition compared to Indonesia and PNG. Immediate action must be taken to conserve this unique region.”
~ Dr. Michael Marnane, Marine Biologist, Wildlife Conservation Society