HUMPED

Australia, Oceania, Tonga

On the rough surface and light blue layer of the deep open ocean my breathing through snorkel is intense. Through my mask I stare straight down into an empty multitude of blue shades that with depth keep getting darker and darker. I suddenly notice how the super dark blue is interrupted by grey. My heart starts rushing and my lungs demand amounts of oxygen that cannot possibly be delivered through my narrow plastic snorkel. I surface quickly, take a few hasty saltwater containing breaths and then I eagerly return to the marine show below. Hovering thirty meters beneath the waves, a family of submarines. Three peaceful underwater vessels of significant size. Humpbacks!

Humpback Tonga

I have serious difficulties comprehending the situation and gaze with wonder at the gentle giants. Mother, calf and teenager. They lay still for some time but then the smallest giant breaks loose and slowly starts ascending with effortless grace. A few thousand kilo baby whale hits the surface ten meters from slightly less than a hundred kilo adult human. Relaxed gazing turns into action and adrenaline when the colossal infant swims straight toward me. A few arm lengths away he turns and during an unreal moment I can focus my eyes on his. Time takes timeout and I stare with a dropped jaw. The large eyeball on the huge but small whale moves around and observes the odd animals in wetsuits. He looks innocent and curious, proud yet vulnerable.

Baby Humpback Eua, Tonga

One truly magical moment is followed by another when the two fully grown whales surface next to the youngster. The massive calf is tiny next to sibling and mother. As a human socializing in ocean with a family of humpbacks you're out of your element, you're small and insignificant. The three ocean mammals stick around for a while and then slowly swim off southbound. After spending winter in the calm, safe and tranquil waters around the Kingdom of Tonga the family has a long journey ahead, back to the krill rich waters of Antarctica. I watch their tails stir up bubbles at the surface, black turns into grey and grey into blue. I surface again and with two arms in the air I shout out my joy. Wow.

Humpback Tonga

Above: Mother and calf.

In an euphoric state and with serious goose bumps I sit for myself once back on the boat. All kinds of emotions and feelings run through my body. I laugh, cry and grasp for words. I feel fortunate, privileged and grateful. I also feel slightly sad and worried. My young humpback friend has a very uncertain future in an already damaged and rapidly changing world beneath the waves. I hopelessly hope he get's to roam the planet in peace.

A family of humpbacks Humpbacks Tonga
Humpback Tail Baby Humpback
Baby Humpback Humpbacks South Pacific

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/Erik

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