I love the ocean, and one of my absolute favourite experiences is swimming with cetaceans. I have been fortunate to be able to swim with humpback whales several times over the last few years as they migrate north to warmer waters from Antarctica to give birth and breed.
While exploring the waters around Mo'orea, French Polynesia where a population of humpbacks visit every year, we spotted a very calm looking whale on the surface. After quietly entering the water, we slowly swam up to it and were delighted to find a young humpback playing with a large palm frond. After becoming aware of our presence, the juvenile swam up to inspect us and almost immediately began to put on a show.
He delighted and entertained with a dance of twirls and flips for almost an hour while an adult escort waited somewhat patiently below the surface. He seemed completely comfortable with our presence and couldn't get enough of impressing us with his playful grace.
Finally, the adult gave an imperceptible signal that it was time to cease the antics and move on. With one last look at us he followed his older companion in to the deep blue, leaving us imprinted with an encounter we won't soon forget.
AUTHOR: Sabine Kooijman (Kenya)
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