Dancing with Gentle Giants by Alice Forrest
He comes closer and before I know it I’m flying under the water, twirling in an intimate dance. It’s one of those moments where everything stops and for infinity I’m staring into his eye, and he’s staring back. Eventually the two tonne baby humpback rolls and twirls and dips deeper under the water until he’s back down with his mum, peeking up at me from under her chin and daring me to come and play some more.
That’s my best attempt to put an indescribable experience into words, but really the experience was unlike anything I could have imagined. I’ve been completely humbled and inspired by the past two weeks here in Vava’u, Tonga.
Every day we head out to sea first thing in the morning and scan the horizon for the misty breaths of whales. I’m on a boat with photographer Scott Portelli, who runs Swimming with Gentle Giants – in my opinion the best whale swim tour out here in the Kingdom of Tonga.
We’ve experienced the calm meditation of floating along with mothers and their young calves, the crazy adrenalin rush of leaping into the water with a charging pack of 7 humpbacks on a heat run, and the utter joy of watching juvenile whales from below and above as they launch themselves from the water. Our days usually end with snorkels on rainbow reefs or magical caves before we head back to the island for chilled local beers and sharing stories.
For me personally, the experience with the whales has been incredibly motivating – any time now I feel defeated I can recall those moments of deep blue wisdom and peace and remember why I fight for our oceans.
Check out SWIMMING WITH GENTLE GIANTS in Tonga and experience this magic for yourself. Scott’s tours book out well in advance so plan ahead or contact Alice for more information.