Date: … Nov 2008 -
nearly 20 years now, whale watchers have been gathering every year in Polynesia to
enjoy the nautical ballet of dozens humpback whales.
every year now for nearly two decades, whale watchers have been gathering in Polynesia
to fully enjoy the nautical ballet offered by dozens of humpback whales. Recently,
the population of these exceptional marine mammals has considerably increased between
July and October, mostly in the Austral Islands. This
phenomenon is perhaps due to the increasingly respected ban on hunting, but also
to the conditions found here by the whales: ideal water temperature, varied and abundant
source of food, and reinforced safety to recover from their long migration and to
give birth to their calves. .
After swimming for around 6,000 km (3,700 miles), groups of whales iare ndeed gathering
around our friendly islands. Staring in July and August, they head north to Tahiti
and the Leeward Islands. But starting in September, they go back further south, namely
near Rurutu. Presently, there are between 400 and 500 whales during this period,
an exceptional quantity compared to 20 years ago.
reproduction period begins before they arrive in our waters, but peaks around September. The
males' magnificent singing that can be heard all day long, reflect the number of
mating taking place around our islands. The mothers feeding their calves produce
several hundred liters of milk during two to three months. During this period, they
feed very little or not at all and lose several tons each.
Watchers come in great numbers to Rurutu to enjoy the mating rituals and swim with
the whales who make it a game to mingle with the swimmers. Regulations
have changed in the past few years in order to avoid scaring the whales. Thus it
is recommended to approach the herds slowly, following their wake from behind. Boats
are required to stay 50 meters away from the whales and 100 meters away if calves
are present. As
long as these elementary rules are respected, unafraid and curious whales, come by
themselves to meet the divers for an unforgettable experience. But it is advisable
to remain careful in all circumstances. Even if, in Polynesia, the whales make it
a game to welcome the divers who folllow them around, they are nevertheless wild
animals whose reactions may be inpredictible, namely when two males are trying to
get the attention of a female. There are still a few days left to enjoy the whales'
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