Where to swim with the rarest giants of the oceans?

Guardians of the planet, a film by Jean-Albert Lièvre narrated by Jean Dujardin, opened in theaters on February 22. Humpback whales are the undisputed stars of the world, known for their black and white beaks. Where to find them?

While it is possible to observe sperm whales, right, gray, blue, bowhead whales in all the oceans – we even call it “whale watching” – it is extremely rare to be able to enter the water with all these giants. Since March 2020, Mauritius has banned swimming with sperm whales (Physiter macrocephaly) except for exceptions, scientific missions or large-scale cinematographic projects. Dominica only issues 60 permits per year to swim with these peaceful carnivores. Giant (23-24 m) blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is only very randomly cut. Fortunately, it is possible to see it on the surface in Sri Lankan waters. Swimming with gray whales is strictly prohibited in California (Schrichtius robustus), but you can approach them by boat and even touch them.

However, there are a few rare areas in the world where swimming with marine mammals is still possible this time of year, during their migration or calving. The highly controlled activity is subject to a strict and precise code of approach (boat speed, distances) and launch. Our tips for making the most of these privileged moments. Seasons remain indicative, migrations depend on the movement of weather, water temperature, currents and food sources. The rarity of these encounters reminds everyone that the ocean is not a zoo with a show at certain times. But when a humpback whale jumps around you and its calf imitates it, or a teenager rushes to observe you eye-to-eye, we guarantee you unforgettable thrills.

Meet humpback whales

Humpback whales stop at Rurutu in Australia before reaching Antarctica. Sure Productions – Collective 64

when ata’e (Erythrina variegata) spread their huge red crowns, the inhabitants of the small island of Rurutu know that the tongue of flowers merges with the ocean. humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) came back and “whale tree” spoke like this. For thousands of years, these humpbacks, called jubartes, have stopped at Rurutu before reaching the frozen lands of Antarctica. Females give birth, males sing, juveniles are curious and surface to see swimmers.

Where? Rurutu, Australian archipelago, French Polynesia.

When ? From mid-July to mid-October.

With whom? With the Raie Manta Club. Installed on the island since 1997, it is a whale specialist. One of the cinematographers of the film is its owner, Yves Lefebvre.

How much ? €100 for a 3 hour ride. Equipment, fins, masks, wetsuit provided. Maximum 6 people.

Apartment? Multiple family pensions.

But also? Operators in Tahiti and Moorea whale watching more, there are also private boats. Interactions with these beautiful marine mammals can be less privileged.

go with?Pacific a la carte.

Somewhere else? On a cruise to Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, Australia (Pacific Ocean), Dominican Republic (Caribbean), Reunion (Indian Ocean).

Face to face with orcas

Killer whales do not always accept the presence of humans, the guide will decide the right time according to their behavior. Ismaele Tortella – Visit Norway

Killer whales follow schools of herring in the country’s northern fjords and pursue them with tried and tested coordinated hunting techniques, stunning them with their tail fins. Very intelligent, these predators sometimes accept the company of people. Therefore, the launch is not systematic. The guide is the only person who decides the right time based on the behavior of the killer whales.

Where? In Norway, around Lyngen Fjord and Alta.

When ? From mid-October to mid-February.

With whom? With special operators.

How much ? €3942 for a 3-day cruise, €6420 for a 6-day cruise.

But also? The water temperature varies between 0 and 3°C. It is also not uncommon to see rorquals and humpback whales.

go with?From Delphi.

Somewhere else? In New Zealand (Kaikoura, Hauraki Gulf, Coromandel).

Get up close to dwarf minke whales

This small whale, with a maximum length of 8 meters, is found in Eastern Australia. Mike Ball Expeditions

Balaenoptera acutorostra Found north of the Great Barrier Reef, it is a small baleen whale, up to 8 meters long and 6 tons in weight. It is a rather shy mammal that moves in small groups of two to three individuals. As the action takes place far from shore, a lifeline is deployed from the boat, a rope that swimmers cling to to avoid being swept away in mid-water. Scuba diving is also possible with these beaked whales.

Where? In Queensland, Eastern Australia.

When ? In June and July.

with?Mike Ball Expeditions, legendary Cairns operator since 1969.

How much ? Depending on the duration of the cruises (3, 4 or 7 nights on board), with or without diving and cabin category (from 2,670 euros to 4,000 euros, 7 nights, 22 dives).

go with?Ultramarine.

Somewhere else? Northern Hemisphere minke whales can be observed in Quebec, Iceland, Greenland and Mexico (Baja California). Antarctic minke whale, sei whale or is called Balaena bonaerensis, It can be seen from boats going to Antarctica (Wilhelmina Bay).

Meet the Belugas

if we call white whale In English, beluga is more like a bottlenose dolphin. Making movies

In English it is called white whale (white whale). The beluga, which belongs to the category of toothed whales (Delphinapterus leucas), more like a bottlenose dolphin (4.2 m) than a whale, it must be admitted. Extremely sociable, lives in a community of tens or even hundreds of individuals. This Arctic animal is found in Canadian waters off Churchill, Manitoba in the summer. The beluga, nicknamed the canary of the sea, communicates a lot with its peers. It is possible to hear his voice on the surface.

Where? In Canada.

When ? From June to September.

with? Specialized operators: lazybearlodge.com, seanorthours.com.

How much ? €155 for a 3-hour ride on a floating mattress where you lie with a mask, without swimming on it. €91 for a 2-hour ride on a semi-rigid boat.

But also? The beluga population in the Saquenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park and Ungava Bay is distinct from the Arctic. It is possible to observe them, it is forbidden to swim with them.

Somewhere else? Swimming is possible in Russia (White Sea, Solovki Islands). Observations in Alaska, Norway, Greenland.

“Guardians of the Planet”, Jean-Albert Liev, in cinemas from February 22 Click on the picture

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