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UPCOMING TRIPS

Seacology Tonga 2011

Destination: Ha'apai Tonga
Trip Date: Aug 9th - Aug 19th, 2011 - Comments
Author: Sam Campbell
Congratulations: Seacology & the village of Felamae - protecting Tongan Reefs!!!

Joining us for our second Whale Swim expedition in Tonga 2011 were Seacology, a nonprofit environmental organization with the sole purpose of preserving the highly endangered biodiversity of islands throughout the world. Seacology's aim is to ask villagers what they need in exchange for an environmental reserve on land or at sea. They offer villagers a win/win situation. Duane & the Silverstein's - made up of donors, friends & journalists, had made the trip to Tonga for a site visit. The village of Felamae on Uiha in the Ha'apai Group had been working with Tongan Fisheries & Seacology to set up a vast marine protected area in exchange for a new community centre. It being a very remote & traditional village, the community centre plays a vital role in village life. From celebrations, funerals, meetings & any social aspect of village life the community hall is valued in this part of the word.

http://www.seacology.org/project_videos/index.htm#felemea

please follow the link to Seacologies trip report.. & video highlights

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Calm seas and curious whales. A perfect day!!! - taken by Bob

Calm seas and curious whales. A perfect day!!! - taken by Bob

It got better & better. An epic heat run that included some spy hopping - captured by Bob

It got better & better. An epic heat run that included some spy hopping - captured by Bob

Heading for the village - taken by Bob

Heading for the village - taken by Bob

The village boxing team line up for inspection - taken by Bob

The village boxing team line up for inspection - taken by Bob

The community centre is open and the party begins - taken by Bob

The community centre is open and the party begins - taken by Bob

The balloon dance  extravaganza  - taken by Bob

The balloon dance extravaganza - taken by Bob

Tongan Tina is ready for Duane - taken by Bob

Tongan Tina is ready for Duane - taken by Bob

Family fun - taken by Bob

Family fun - taken by Bob

Another epic breaching display - captured by Bob

Another epic breaching display - captured by Bob

Pilot Whales joined Humpbacks to end an incredible day!!! - captured by Bob

Pilot Whales joined Humpbacks to end an incredible day!!! - captured by Bob

All together now - taken by Bob

All together now - taken by Bob

The last Whale of the trip & Bob got it. He breached all the way to our anchorage - Incredible

The last Whale of the trip & Bob got it. He breached all the way to our anchorage - Incredible

Pilot Whales turn up for a swim encounter - taken by Bob

Pilot Whales turn up for a swim encounter - taken by Bob

The opening of the community hall - taken by Doug

The opening of the community hall - taken by Doug

'Do my ears look big in this?.' - taken by Doug

'Do my ears look big in this?.' - taken by Doug

Happy Whale swimmers - taken by Doug

Happy Whale swimmers - taken by Doug

Duane mising the action. - taken by Doug

Duane mising the action. - taken by Doug

Brigitte look at the camera!!! - taken by Doug

Brigitte look at the camera!!! - taken by Doug

Mum & calf relaxed in our presence - taken by Doug

Mum & calf relaxed in our presence - taken by Doug

Great shot taken by Eddie in the skiff

Great shot taken by Eddie in the skiff

R u looking at me? - taken by Eddie

R u looking at me? - taken by Eddie

Spy Hopping - taken by Eddie

Spy Hopping - taken by Eddie

Another Spy Hop - taken by Eddie

Another Spy Hop - taken by Eddie

Eddie gets up close

Eddie gets up close

It's next to the skiff - taken by Eddie

It's next to the skiff - taken by Eddie

Dolphins, Pilot & Humpbacks all together - taken by Eddie

Dolphins, Pilot & Humpbacks all together - taken by Eddie

One of the many stunning Islands that make up the Ha'api group - taken by Mary

One of the many stunning Islands that make up the Ha'api group - taken by Mary

Semi breach - captured by Mary

Semi breach - captured by Mary

Lots of action with glorious weather - taken by Mary

Lots of action with glorious weather - taken by Mary

Island times - taken by Mary

Island times - taken by Mary

Baby breaching with mother close by - taken by Mary

Baby breaching with mother close by - taken by Mary

All the kids joined in the community hall opening celebrations - taken by Mary

All the kids joined in the community hall opening celebrations - taken by Mary

Great day topped off with Pilot Whales joining two Humpbacks - taken by Mary

Great day topped off with Pilot Whales joining two Humpbacks - taken by Mary

Bobs typically dedicated pose, why he got so many great shots!!

Bobs typically dedicated pose, why he got so many great shots!!

Eddie captures another great shot from the bow!! - taken by Mary

Eddie captures another great shot from the bow!! - taken by Mary

Epic topside encounter on a glassy day - taken by Mary

Epic topside encounter on a glassy day - taken by Mary

Luckily for them there was also the chance to swim with Humpbacks & use Nai'a as an expedition vessel to access the remote Island. A fantastic group of nature lovers & world travellers were not disappointed. The best Whales, weather, topside & in water encounters were had during this trip - it truly was what dreams are made of. From the first till the last day the Whales cooperated, playing from dawn to dusk.

On the very first afternoon a majestic heat run totaling six large males competing for a lone female sent shivers down our spines. We were following the heat run in the skiff, clearly not intruding as the adult whales bumped, barged & snorted for over 30 mins within meters of our skiff - a truly Nat Geo experience happening in front of our very eyes & a memory i will never forget.

We spent one day during the trip on land and at Felamea. The village hosted the Seacology group for the grand opening of the village hall. A sumptuous feast was prepared & with great enthusiasm the villagers provided the entertainment. Tongan Tina, the large lady in the boxing gloves was clearly the highlight of the day - see photo gallery.

The weather Gods, nature, crew & guests all played their part in making this a trip of a lifetime for all those involved!!!!

Our Guests...

Duane
Duane
Alison
Alison
Andy
Andy
Doug
Doug
Susan
Susan
Jess
Jess
Mary
Mary
Pete
Pete
Ginnie
Ginnie
Catherine
Catherine
Amy
Amy
Bob
Bob
Kelly
Kelly
Art
Art
Jane
Jane
Lenny
Lenny
Thar she blows - taken by Kelly
Thar she blows - taken by Kelly
Spy hopping close to Nai'a taken by Kelly
Spy hopping close to Nai'a taken by Kelly
taken by Kelly
taken by Kelly
Fiji boys on an ilsand tour
Fiji boys on an ilsand tour
Amy teaching village kids new games
Amy teaching village kids new games
taken by Kelly
taken by Kelly
Our sentries are posted
Our sentries are posted
Great whales = happy snorkelers
Great whales = happy snorkelers

Comments

“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

~ Dr. Michael Marnane, Marine Biologist, Wildlife Conservation Society