I could probably bore you with several more posts of whale pics and videos, but I think this will be the last one. We had 2 absolutely awesome days of interactions that were totally different.
The first was an entire morning spent with 3 adults that looked like they were doing ballet together, and enjoyed showing off for us.
That's the view we'd get as they came out of the blue towards us, getting closer and bigger, until...
... they passed closely to give us the once over (multiple times!).
They seemed to be as curious of us as we were of them.
In the afternoon of that same day, Nai'a received a call saying that a day boat had found a whale tangled in line, and asked if we would come help. I don't have any pictures to share, as I was asked to video the rescue from the skiff, to document it. It is illegal to be in the water with scuba near the whales, but we needed a record to show that we were not on a lark, but hopefully providing a very serious service. Another guest had a GoPro underwater doing the same thing.
She was floating at the surface with a line across her back and around both pectorals that had weights on the ends and pinned her pectorals to her body. The divers approached her carefully, not sure how she'd react to the bubbles and noise. She was so exhausted that she tolerated them quite well. As they cut the weights free (using steak knives from the boat!), she suddenly thrashed because her pectorals were now free. However, there was still a line encircling her tail multiple times and it was causing her to hold her tail up and back at an unnatural angle. One of the divers slowly advanced along her side, touching her the whole way and trying to maintain eye contact. As he was trying to cut one of the loops, he figures that the sawing motion caused the rope to rub in the cuts that were already there, and she thrashed strongly again, tossing him away. Luckily, he lost only his mask and was a little stunned, but made it safely back to the skiff. The remaining rope was able to be unwound from her tail by the snorkelers and divers remaining, without having to get too close to her. Everyone on the boats cheered when we saw all the rope free of her, and we left her alone, floating quietly at the surface, hoping that her cuts will heal and she'll survive.
The next day, after leaving these 3 beauties, we met up with a (probable) "adolescent" who had lots of energy and was definitely showing off for us. Interestingly, he had completely white pectoral fins, which is new and unusual for Tonga. Typically, the Tongan humpback population has dark coloring on the tops and white underneath, while humpbacks in other parts of the world are white on both sides. (hmmm... who's your daddy?)
We had some really nice close passes...
Then he started to get a little too close for comfort. It was almost as if he was playing chicken!
That's me, trying to back away.
After that, we got out, to leave him to play by himself.
I can't think of a catchy way to close this current chapter. So, I decided to share my favorite "girls" with you again. 'Til next time...