Each summer just off the coast of Vava’u, Tonga, Humpback whales group in their tropical breeding grounds. I went to photograph these majestic animals for The New York Times Magazine.
It took me four days to get to Vava’u due to bad weather. This also made it difficult to spot the whales, with strong winds, big waves and swells stirring up the sea impairing visibility. Eventually I started spotting some of the infamous sea-life, including Spinner dolphins, Pilot whales and finally Humpbacks. There were several adult males alongside pregnant mothers and calves.
I was lucky to witness a heat run, which involved 8 males showing-off in front of a female. The males move fast often changing direction, breaching, blowing bubbles and slapping their tails on the surface. The best way to describe this is to imagine a snow-globe (with whales) being shaken.
I continued my journey to Fonuafo`ou, an uninhabited island approximately 90km north of Tongatapu (mainland Tonga). I camped on the remote island overnight in solitude, I was completely removed from everything.
The island is a haven for birds that live in the small central thicket, which is surrounded only by a few metres of sandy beach. The shallows that encompass the island lead into a reef full of fish, including reef sharks.