Humpback Whales in Mo'orea - 2019 Trip Report

Humpback Whales in Mo'orea - 2019 Trip Report

Bluewater Travel 2019 Humpback Whale Trip Report By Various Writers and Photographers


"Humpback Whale Expedition in Mo'orea" by tommy stylski 

The humpback expedition is the type of experience that gives you perspective. It demands patience, leads to a greater sense of self-awareness, and creates the realization that there is often no guarantees with wildlife. But when the moment is right... c’est magnifique!

Mo'orea Trip Report

The island of Mo’orea, also known as the heart of French Polynesia, is one of many beautiful South Pacific islands. During this time of year, humpbacks will migrate from the Antarctic to warmer, more tropical regions to give live birth to the calves. The bond between mother and calf is strong. The calves will stay with their mothers for a year to nurse and learn essential survival techniques. Our focus on this expedition was to find and spend time with mother and calf humpback whales.

Our trip started off with several in-water encounters. As soon as our guide, William, finished his briefing, whales were spotted and our expedition was underway. Our first two encounters were short, but the final interaction of the day was sensational a two-hour heartwarming mother and calf ballet. The humpback calf was super curious, very clumsy, and highly intrigued by all of us floating and staring at her. As the sun lowered in the sky, many of the guests decided to head back to the boat. William and one guest stayed with the mother and calf for one last exchange. They returned to the boat with a smile that left us all to wonder.

Mo'orea Trip Report 2019

We spent our lay day exploring the island, kayaking, and talking with Ruta. In the evening, we all had dinner and drinks, made friends with locals, and danced and sang all night!

The third day was slow in the water, but we had exceptional surface behavior. We saw full breaches, dual breaches, and tail slaps at the surface. If you were lucky enough to have a camera on deck, the photo opportunities were endless.

Mo'orea Trip Report 2019

Throughout the entire week, our interactions were consistent each day. We had moments where we felt like nothing was happening, but then our guide would shout, “GET REAAADY!” and within minutes our team was in the water with animals. Many times this required swimming due to guidelines that protect the whales, but the end results and the feeling of being in water with humpback whales was the motivation. On the last day, we experienced multiple drops with dolphins and whales in motion together which was the perfect way to cap off the week.

Mo'orea Trip Report 2019 Mo'orea Trip Report 2019

As usual, the Tahiti Private Expedition crew was extremely knowledgable and dedicated to their craft. They always put us first and made sure we were comfortable in and out of the water. When it came to the whales, our guide and captain couldn’t have done a better job. They always made sure we were in the best possible positions for the best interactions.

The time we spent with whales this year was beyond words. These animals are majestic, regal, good-natured souls that grant us their time each and every season. Mo’orea and the humpbacks will always share a vital bond and we must recognize and protect them as best we can. Although we continue to learn about this species there’s so much left to be discovered about their complex societies and social behaviors. I am once again humbled and inspired by the opportunity to observe the magnificent humpback whale in the wild with such a passionate team of adventurers.

Mo'orea Trip Report 2019 Mo'orea Trip Report 2019

INTO THE LARGE!

 

"moorea humpback whale trip" by erik lucas

I remained cautiously optimistic as the day approached for my 4th annual trip to Moorea for the Bluewater Photo humpback whale trip; the weather forecasts showed high winds and the potential for rain during the dates that our group would be there. As it turns out the forecast was only half correct, there were strong winds hitting most of the south side of the island but the rains never showed up.

Moorea 2019 Trip Report

Our first day on the water proved slow with only sporadic whale sightings and just a single drop into the water. Sadly that one drop lasted only a matter of minutes before the adult and juvenile whale swam off into the distance. Disappointed but not defeated we all kept our fingers crossed hoping for better results the following day.

As we left the lagoon on day number two our prayers were answered as we spotted a whale just moments later. Within just a few more minutes our group was geared up and ready to make our first drop of the day. We ended up encountering a young whale perhaps only a month old that would end up becoming fairly well-known throughout this year's trips to Moorea, mainly due to the rambunctious behavior she exhibited. She would continue to make repeated close passes and in some cases direct physical contact with the swimmers. We continued to see and encounter this whale throughout the remainder of the trip, with everyone in the group coming back with amazing images and stories about this now infamous calf.

Moorea 2019 Trip Report Moorea 2019 Trip Report

One thing that remained constant throughout the week were the high winds. It limited our group to remain on only half of the island along with all of the other boats that were whale watching in Moorea at that time. While not ideal the amazing crew worked tirelessly to put us on whales as often as possible. Days 2 through 5 proved to be full of incredible encounters with combinations of mothers and calves as well a large group of six juvenile and adult whales socializing together.

It was another amazing year in Moorea and I continue to look forward each year to the month of September for the next trip back.

 

"calf encounters in moorea" BY MARK STRICKLAND

Every trip I’ve done to Moorea for humpbacks has been great, but this year was especially exciting and productive.  And what a setting… even without the whales, I am still blown away by the scenery, with absolutely spectacular surroundings, and a refreshing lack of litter or other signs of environmental degradation.  Conditions were especially nice this year, with great weather, mostly good visibility, and several in-water encounters each day.  

Moorea Trip Report 2019 Moorea Trip Report 2019

While some boats put more people in the water than we'd prefer, most operators do a great job of corralling them, allowing for high-quality encounters in spite of the crowds.  Like any whale-swimming trip, there were long periods of inactivity, searching for whales while shivering in the cool winds, but overall our efforts paid off handsomely.   

The last 2 days, in particular, were exceptional, with an especially relaxed mom & calf, sometimes with an adult male escort... apparently, the same animals encountered by the previous week’s Bluewater group.  Our first in-water session with these whales lasted nearly 2 hours, after which they disappeared.  About an hour later, however, we found them again, this time with no other boats. This encounter lasted maybe 30 - 45 minutes, and provided some of the best photo ops of all.  And, to top it off, we later caught up with the escort, which didn't cooperate for photos but entertained everyone with a prolonged singing session.  Hearing and FEELING that whale song reverberating through our bodies was truly an amazing experience!  

Moorea Trip Report 2019

The last day was at least as good, starting with a single sub-adult that made several close passes.  A bit later we encountered the same mom & calf from the previous day, when once again they put on an incredible show, with the calf breaching almost continuously for 30 minutes or more at a stretch.  Best of all, they rarely moved, allowing us all to keep pace for several hour-plus in-water encounters!  The calf was beyond curious—actually quite rambunctious, frequently approaching within touching distance, weaving amongst the crowd, all the while twirling and thrashing at the surface, just celebrating life and exploring its surroundings.  It also breached a number of times right among the snorkelers, nearly landing on us a few times!  Yet another incredible humpback whale experience in Moorea… I can barely wait until next year! 

Moorea Trip Report 2019 Moorea Trip Report 2019

 

Book your next Humpback Whale TRip! 

Bluewater Travel runs several trips to Mo'orea every year at the peak of the humpback whale season. Unlike most boats, we offer a small group size of maximum of 6 guests, and our whale boats stay out all day, giving you the best chance of having multiply quality encounters with the whales! 

To start planning your trip: 

Choose from 5 Mo'orea trips in Aug-Oct 2020.

Need an alternative? Check out our Silver Bank Whale Snorkel Trip in March 2020 ($500 off EARLY BIRD DEAL!)

Can't join our trips? Contact us to have a trip planned for you, free of charge! 

 

 
 
 

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