heat run humpback whales tonga

Whales, whales and more whales

The 2018 Humpback whale season is about to kick off and as we get closer to seeing these majestic gentle giants, I can’t help but think of some of the truly amazing encounters we had last season. After 17 years taking people to swim with whales, I am still pleasantly surprised by the multitude of different behaviours I observe that have rarely been seen before. Last year we had baby whales licking their lips with their big frilly tongues, adult interactive whales that would spy-hop inches in front of us, false killer whales trailing the boat, pilot whale pods extending for kilometers across the ocean. So much to see in a season.

But I think the highlight would have been the 15 plus Humpback whales pursuing each other in what is called a ‘heat run’. The heat run is the ultimate wildlife encounter, multiple whales competing for a female which can last for hours or even days. Males show a multitude of behaviours while in a heat run: bubble netting, open mouth gulping, physical contact, loud acoustic sounds, it is truly one of nature’s great events. After 17 years I have documented some of the most common and unusual behaviour seen by Humpbacks in the region, but it is truly heart-thumping and adrenaline-pumping action to be a part of.

Check out the footage capturing this amazing behaviour above and below the surface:

Tonga 2014 season

Tonga – Still Paradise

I have been visiting Tonga for 13 years and spent many hours on the water photographing Humpback whales and I can tell you, every time I get in the water with these magnificent creatures, I am just as excited as the first time. Tonga has so much to offer, picturesque landscapes and underwater environments makes this place paradise for Photographers, and don’t forget the added bonus that you can swim with whales. It really is still paradise. Every year I see something  different or have one of those unforgettable encounters. This year I had a baby whale shoot up from the depths and breach half a meter in front of me, exhilarating to say the least. This year Travel & Fashion Blogger, Laura McWhinnie from This Island life did an interview piece about her time in Tonga with us, check out the article here:

http://www.thisislandlife.com/travel/swimming-with-humpback-whales-an-interview-with-scott-portelli

http://www.thisislandlife.com/travel/swimming-with-humpback-whales-in-vavau-tonga

This year we started the Tongan Fluke Collective, which encourages visiting photographers to donate Fluke shots to help ID the different individual whales that come to Tonga each year. You can find out more about the program here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/tonganflukecollective/ – Anyway we will be running a number of Photographic tours in the next year or so to various destinations, so stay tuned.

If you want to see some of the Video footage you can see this season’s wrap up here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcreHs7qcq0

Tonga 2014 season still paradise collage swimming with humpback whales  and through caves

Tonga 2013

Tonga Whale Swim 2013 Season: Amazing Surprise Wildlife Encounters

We had an amazing 2013 Season in Tonga this year filled with a multitude of mothers and calves and encounters with a number of creatures that were an unexpected surprise. We were swimming with and photographing Whales, Manta Rays, Blue Marlin, Leopard sharks and even a 15 metre long creature from the deep.

You can see all the photos from the 2013 season at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/scottyportelli

We are already looking forward to next season!

Tonga 2013

Humpback whale exhibition for IFAW at Customs House Sydney

“We’re for Whales” Photographic Exhibition at Customs House

IFAW have launched their “”We’re for Whales” photographic exhibition at Customs House in Sydney.  A number of my photos of Humpback Whales feature on the massive digital wall on the ground level and throughout the exhibition. If you are in Sydney it is worth going to have a look at the exhibition and support the fight to protect our whales. check out the exhibition at Customs House until the 31st March.

 

Humpback whale exhibition for IFAW at Customs House Sydney

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