Humpback whales rise from ocean floor right beside thrilled swimmer
Humpback whales are possibly the most beloved animals on the planet.
They are the gentlest of giants and breath taking to behold.
Tonga is one of the few places in the world where people can get in the water to experience them close up.
This lucky videographer had traveled from Canada, hoping to meet a whale face to face.
On the first day on a whale watching eco tour, the guide spotted blow spouts in the distance.
They carefully placed the boat in the area of the spouts and then slipped into the water.
Humpback whales travel hundreds of miles in a day and can be far from where they were seen when they next surface.
But occasionally, they stop to rest and catch their breath, rising and descending in the same spot for an hour or more.
Patience paid off as the whale they had seen slowly appeared right beneath them, drifting lazily upwards to the surface.
Watching a 50 foot long giant that weighs approximately 60 tons coming towards you is an unforgettable experience.
It is even more memorable when there are two of them at once.
These whales slowly rose and spun around, giving a perfect view of their spectacular heads and bodies as they came up for air.
Floating on the surface for almost a minute, they gracefully flapped their massive tails and descended to the bottom again.
From only a few meters away, the guests on this tour had the chance to look these giants in the eyes, feeling a sense of connection and mutual curiosity.
Humpback whales live more than 100 years.
As recently as 100,000 years ago, whales were the most intelligent species on the planet, surpassing even our own ancestors for intellectual capacity.
Humpback whales songs are an extremely complex and sophisticated method of communication that can he heard for hundreds of miles.
The sounds are often loops that repeat after as much as twenty minutes, suggesting that the amount of information in a single song is very large.
It is these songs, along with their beautiful leaping breaches that fascinate us so much.
Considering their longevity and their high intelligence, it would be incredible to learn exactly what they think of humans and of our relationships with other animals who share our planet.