Whales Protected Since 1978
It's a 6,000 kilometre journey from the feeding grounds in the Southern Ocean to the protected waters of Tonga. The pre-whaling estimate of this population was 10,000 but coastal whaling off New Zealand and the impact of illegal Southern Ocean whaling reduced this population to around 250 by the 1970's.
Tongan's were artisanal whalers from the 19th century working with handheld harpoons from canoes. This activity would have little population impact until the 1960's and 70's when the specie's survival was threatened.
Whales were protected by royal decree in 1978 (Tonga is a constitutional monarchy). Unlike the spectacular recovery of the Eastern and Western Australian humpback populations, Tongan's humpbacks are still at around 10-20% of the pre-whaling numbers.
North Shore Sightings
Some of the whale photography locations on the North shore of Vava'u from our August 2016 visit.
We run a GPS track program that then allows us to geo-tag images with the location.
The GPS track from a typical day's whale hunt.