In the heart of Austral winter in the South Pacific, flowers the AETE, also called “whale tree”. From the Austral islands to the Marquesas, passing by the Gambier archipelago, the Society Islands and the Tuamotu Archipelago, the humpback whales arrive in Polynesian waters for their yearly migration …
On a calm day, during the season, one scans the horizon with baited breath, looking for whales signs. With a bit of luck, you will see in the distance, off the horizon the mighty “spray” of one or more whales. Indeed a magical moment and not unusual in Polynesian waters, where each year attracts tens, sometimes hundreds of specimens.
“The whales are here!”
Polynesians of the Austral islands have first encounter with these magnificent behemoths. Which makes perfect sense, since the seasonal migration of the humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, originate by a departure from the very rich waters of Antarctica to migrate from August to October to the peaceful Polynesian waters. A sort of nuptial for one of the largest mammals in the world … For in French Polynesia they comes every year to breed and calve, after an eleven month gestation.
The arrival of whales each year is a big event. With exclamations of “Did you see them?” to “They are here!!!” Everywhere, from the marinas to the dive centers. This year, they have been observed as early as end-May in the Austral. This migration that quietly makes its way to the Marquesas for the bravest of the species.
The Society Islands, a privileged whale watching destination
En route to warmer water than Antarctica, the Society Islands is a privileged haven for the observation of these giant mammals each year.
In 2002, French Polynesia has even been classified as one of the marine mammal sanctuaries, where the humpback whales are on the top of the list. Since then, whale watching has been strictly regulated and the territory allocates annual authorizations to professionals who specialize in “whale watching” excursions.
The public is urged to trust these accredited professionals that propose safe observation in the best spots, and with the greatest respect for the whales. For your enjoyment and for the safety of these mammals, the regulations are clear:
– Keep a safe distance (50 meters from an adult and 100 meters in the presence of a whale calf).
– Let the animals come to you and do not approach them from behind
– Keep a constant speed and change course gradually
– Do not block or encircle the whale against the reef.
And now, time to get your feet wet!
If the observation of a group of whales from a small boat already remains forever etched in your memory, get your snorkel gear on and it’ll be the icing on the cake! Once in the water, one is amazed by the whale song! The haunting sounds of the males that resonate in your ears. And, with a bit of luck, you may get to see the gentle giants, in their unique ballet, a subtle blend of supreme grace and heavenly power.
A once-in-a lifetime experience that e-Tahiti Travel and Topdive, an accredited whale watching professional, can offer. It’s time to take the plunge!