Mother humpback whale brings her baby close to swimmers in Tonga
Humpback whales are beautiful and peaceful creatures. They are highly intelligent, with cognitive abilities that are comparable to dogs, chimpanzees, and dolphins. Scientists believe that as recently as 100,000 years ago, humpbacks were the most intelligent creatures on the planet at that time.
Humpbacks are gentle creatures, despite their immense size and power. They are curious in nature and they tolerate the presence of humans in the water along with them, as long they are given a respectful distance.
Tonga is one of the few places in the world where people are still allowed to get into the water with these magnificent beings. These lucky swimmers quietly slipped into the ocean and waited as a mother humpback and her calf approached and curiously looked them over. Tonga is a world free of orcas and other predators that would kill a defenseless baby whale. These whales come to the waters around Tonga to breed and bear their young. This calf is less than two weeks old. It will stick close to its mother and drink milk as rapidly as possible so that it will gain weight and strength. The baby will need both to survive as the whales migrate to their feeding grounds.
When threatened, the mother will swim under her baby and lift it out of the water on her head. She will also use her massive fins to create a barrier between a predator and her calf. As a last resort, the mother will position herself so that she can slap her tail and strike with enormous power.
Spending time with such a beautiful animal in its own environment is an indescribable experience. To be given the trust to interact with this newborn calf is touching and unforgettable.
Humpback whales deserve every chance to thrive without human interference. To lose them forever would be beyond tragic.