A photographer on a dive tour off Tonga last week videotaped a vivid scene involving a humpback whale that breached and splashed down within yards of where he and other snorkelers were treading water.
“It was the most surreal and incredible experience... being meters from this Humpback Whale when it breached and landed next to me,” Beau Pilgrim wrote on Facebook. “Such an amazing adrenaline rush!”
Pilgrim, who was with Swimming with Gentle Giants, told 9 News that he was not concerned about his safety – had the 30- to 40-ton mammal landed on any of the snorkelers, the result could have been disastrous – when the larger of two whales picked up speed before breaching. (The video contains above- and below-water footage.)
“All of the movements of the whale before that were really slow, so it surprised me when it started moving really fast,” Pilgrim said. “When it got to the surface, I was too busy concentrating on the shot to worry about where the whale was.”
The Sydney-based Swimming with Gentle Giants specializes in diving tours in Tonga, a Polynesian island kingdom, and elsewhere.
Many countries, including the United States, have laws that prohibit behavior around whales that could be perceived as harassment.