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Recap Island Event

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Date: … Nov 2008 - POLYNESIA

Migrations
For nearly 20 years now, whale watchers have been gathering every year in Polynesia to enjoy the nautical ballet of dozens humpback whales.

CLICK to enkarge.Like 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.

The 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.

Whale 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' ballet.

 See our article about the underwater world

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