I have defended whales from the Japanese whaling fleet in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary, and am now visiting the humpback play and mating grounds of Tonga, where boisterous males brawl for a female companion, mothers with calves and curious juveniles swim freely and in peace.
Sea Shepherd crewmembers were invited aboard the licensed whale watching vessel, Nai’a, for several days to experience the majesty of the humpbacks in recognition of our hard work over the last 35 years defending these very whales.
Eight a.m. the next morning, the sun rising. Just off our bow, playful humpbacks were breaching as if to welcome in a brand new day, launching forty tonnes into the air with all the grace of a ballerina, a slow pirouette before the crescendo of an almighty splashdown. Returning to the surface, exhaling a plume of fishy breath that washed over us. In awe!!
Not far off, a mother and calf basked lazily in the midday sun. The opportunity arose for us to enter the water, were they curious enough for us to have a close encounter? We waited silent and motionless on the surface staring off into the haze….
Was it curiosity or a proud mother wanting to show off her baby, emerging out of the blue haze, the mother, big and beautiful, the calf held proudly aloft, the sun radiated from the calf’s brilliant almost white skin.
Taking pictures, concentrating so hard to get the shot, you capture the moment but you also miss the moment, to lower the camera and just enjoy is something else. You could feel the bond, the beating of a heart filled with love.
I can only wonder and hope that I have seen some of these humpbacks before in the pristine waters of Antarctica and to be in their presence once again in the warm waters of Tonga, eye to eye, to see new life.
Whales living in peace and harmony in their environment- humans could learn so much if we were to only watch and listen, but we choose to abuse the world around us, knowingly driving species into extinction and eventually ourselves.
I have found my place in a state of grace, among the humpbacks of Tonga and Antarctica.