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  • Jean-Luc Tulliez

Back from Kingdom of Tonga with Humpback Whale

Mis à jour : 27 juil. 2019


Take a trip to the South Pacific to the Kingdom of Tonga to meet humpback whales ! A beautiful destination preserved, the of Kingdom Tonga are located in the North of New Zealand and the East of Fiji. Tongans have remained faithful to their Polynesian ancestral roots, in part because they are the only Pacific island nation ever to have been colonized by a foreign power.

The underwater relief is, like the relief of the islands on the surface, very diversified, and wild. The seabed is composed of coral gardens, caves, drop offs or wrecks. With idyllic water temperature and excellent visibility, Tonga is the perfect place to observe humpback whales in optimal conditions. You may look for any trace of hump on the back of the whale, you will not find : This impression of rounding is due to his way of diving head first to the side. His body is not really profiled to slip in the water like other whales. It is stocky and robust. The back of the humpback whale in the southern hemisphere is black while the underside is white.


Mammal returned to water 60 million years ago, the whale has a sensory system closer to us than fish.

It is about 16 meters long in adulthood and weighs on average 25 tons. His life expectancy is 50 years. It is a great traveler: It is driven by the magnetic field at a speed of up to 25km/h.

Its feeding areas are in the cold waters near the poles where it consumes huge quantities of krill that it stores. Then she migrates to the tropics to mate and foal, traveling up to 16,000 km round-trip a year on average. The calf at birth weighs approximately 700kg and measures 4 to 5m. He will take 60kg/day and his weight will double in two weeks. A whale will stay in the warm waters from June to October until the calf finishes its growth.


You will be amazed by this fascinating giant of the seas that can perform spectacular jumps out of the water, fall on the back or hit the water with its fins. Each individual has a different caudal fin, which allows them to be identified. This fin serves as a propeller.

Its pectoral fins are large up to 5m, unlike those of other cetaceans. They serve to steer and brake. She breathes through two vents and plunges to a depth of 250m with freediving times of 15' to 45'.

The man dives in apnea at 130m for a time around 4'.


You will be able to see the whale on the surface of the water thanks to its breath forming like a small geyser above its head or by a zone étale wrinkled of concentric circles called "the step". The humpback whale has a very curious character and easily goes into contact. It evolves in groups of 4 to 5 individuals.

Each encounter is different : You will observe, for example, a calf learning to emancipate from his mother and to control his pectoral fins. He has to breathe more frequently than adults and makes shuttles between his mother and the surface. A little later, you will see two competing males courting a female, pushing and causing spectacular bubble curtains.

In order to interact with the female and delimit their territory, they emit a melodious song.


Do you know that the song of the whale is considered to be the most complex of the animal kingdom ?

She can last up to 30 minutes and be heard hundreds of miles away. Depending on the group, the vocalizations may differ, suggesting that there is a real dialect between the groups. Females and calves emit shorter sounds such as grunts or pulsed sounds.

The song of sexual parade is different from that of fishing. This strange and soothing melody has been chosen among other sound samples of our planet by the NASA engineers to transmit a message of peace embedded on the Voyager probe.


This giant and mythical creature of the oceans fascinates the man since always and encircles many legends. She inspired literature from the Bible with Jonas via Melville with Moby Dick. Yet it is a harmless animal that must be protected. This is why the government of Tonga has put in place ethical rules to develop ecotourism : the boat approaches very carefully and cuts the engine. The launching is done by small group...

In addition to these meetings with the whales, you will be able to discover or improve your capacities in freediving.


You will have the opportunity to practice deep immersion with the buoy and rope. Thus you will improve your skills under the water and will enjoy longer your encounters with whales and beautiful underwater landscapes. Also discover our beach-specific yoga classes at Apnea. You will learn breathing relaxation techniques and postures that promote flexibility of the body and the ribcage.

Join us to discover these extraordinary sensations of communion with nature !


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