Vava'u, Tonga

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Pelagic Blue: Swimming with Megaptera Novaeangliae in Vava'u

Read about it here.

I let go of all that I was as a civilised human and became what I am: concentrations of thought and matter, treading water at the surface, no body but the pacific body, no body but all the bodies of all things moving through the world.


I stopped in the water, stunned. Now there was no group, no water, only the whale and myself. Seeing the baby was everything. She played and played. So much energy moved with her. You could see how powerful she was, the way the water moved around her, the way she moved through the water. So much speed and grace. And she was so new! Maybe a month old. You could see how happy she was just to be alive. That energy came off her too. It seemed to me to be where her power came from. She spun and turned, breached and slapped.
Our presence in the water above the whale drew his songs into our bodies. We were each a hydrophone dipped in the ocean to record the vocal resonance, the still little understood songs of this humpback against the vast crackle of the open ocean.
Singing as he rose, he looked straight at each of us, his eye full of age and wisdom, the kind of understanding we might never achieve in our short lives. The distances in his eye: the migrations, songs, the isolation, the hunger of months without eating, the knowledge of the disassembling of the deep by our kind.
I stared down a thousand feet of blue ocean without fear. Wonder overtook me. Light rays led the way down. Iā€™d heard the songs of humpbacks were first mistaken for the songs of sirens, luring ancient mariners to their deaths. The deep seemed to me to have its own siren song. I floated at the surface knowing that only buoyancy and the faint thread of reason left to me at that moment kept me from it.