The Whales of Tonga

What is it about Freediving that appeals to you? For me it is simply connecting with the ocean on a deeper level. The feeling of being transformed and becoming one with the underwater world is indescribable. By Craig Gentry


Freediving photography is a passion of mine as it combines all the elements I most enjoy in life, the ocean, Freediving, marine life and photography. 

I have always been fascinated with humpback whales. There is something magical about them. To me there is nothing in life that compares to the experience of Freediving with them.  

The Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific is one of the few places on earth where it is legal to swim with humpback whales in territorial waters. Swimming with humpback whales is regulated by the Tongan government with strict rules to protect them.

I recently returned from a trip to Tonga. This was my second year photographing humpback whales while Freediving or swimming (situation dependent) with them. Every experience is unique.   

There are a wide variety of situations that one may encounter when swimming or Freediving with humpback whales that all require different approaches. To name a few, these situations can range from a solitary male ‘singer’ suspended with neutral buoyancy at roughly 20-30 meters below the surface, to a motionless mother and newborn calf resting on the surface, to a group of curious and playful sub-adult travelers, to heat-runs which can involve more than 15 adult males competing to mate with a female.  

Of these, Freediving deep to be motionless next to a singing humpback whale is my favorite experience, it’s ethereal. At depth I like to feel the sound waves of the singing resonate in my body as I watch in awe. There is something about whale songs that connect with the human soul.  

If you have a creative side or are interested in adding another element to your Freediving adventures an inexpensive way to start is with a GoPro 7 Black with a KNEKT GPSS pistol grip and an over/under dome port. See you in the deep blue! 

Whales Shallows Tonga.jpg
Mother Calf 2018 overlap baby dive.jpg