In a matter of hours, I'll be on my way south to spend more quality time with humpback whales in the waters around the Vava'u group of islands in the Kingdom of Tonga.
Tonga one Pa'anga note featuring humpback whale
According to friends who live there, the whales showed up a couple/ few weeks ago, and at least one baby was spotted last weekend. Hurray! I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a good season.
There are many things I'm looking forward to, including of course seeing friends, learning more about the whales, and hopefully getting lots of nice humpback images.
New for this year will be the humpback whale acoustics research project I'm starting with my friend Dr. John Potter, an endeavour that I hope we'll be able to continue for an extended period of time.
I'll also be continuing with my humpback whale calf ID/ count project, which has proven to be incredibly rewarding in terms of what I've learned and also the friends I've been able to make.
Input from several people last year, for example, took my verified humpback whale calf count for the 2009 season from 26 to 31, a substantial increase over what I was able to establish myself. (Thank you Paul/ Karen, Alexis/ Nathalie, Carol, Nonie, Hugh!)
Speaking of which...if you happen to visit Vava'u this year and want to consider helping with my calf count, please take a look at this PDF summary I prepared to explain my objectives and the information I need.
Actually, if you're anywhere in Tonga and happen to get suitable ID photographs for humpback whale mother and calf pairs, please let me know. It would be interesting to document patterns of movement for whales among the various island groups in Tonga.
For those of you who are joining me in Vava'u...see you soon! The whales are waiting.
Female humpback whale making eye contact with me, while a male cruises below