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Humpback whales, killer whales, belugas: where to swim with the rarest giants of the oceans?


Guardians of the Planet, a film by Jean-Albert Lièvre narrated by Jean Dujardin was released in theaters on February 22. Humpback whales are the undisputed stars, recognizable among all with their white and black livery. So where to find them?

If it is possible to observe sperm whales, right, gray, blue, bowhead whales in all the oceans - this is even called "whale watching" - it is extremely rare to be able to get into the water with all these giants.

Since March 2020, Mauritius has prohibited swimming with sperm whales (

Physeter macrocephalus

) with the exception of scientific missions or large-scale film projects.

Dominica only grants 60 permits a year to swim with these placid carnivores.

The huge (23-24m) blue whale (

Balænoptera musculus

) is only crossed very randomly.

With luck, it is possible to see it surface in the waters of Sri Lanka.

In California,

), 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, depending on the time of year, during their migrations or calving.

Highly controlled, the activity is subject to a strict and precise code of approach (speed of boats, distances) and launching.

Here are our tips for making the most of these privileged moments.

The seasons remain indicative, migrations being subject to weather, water temperature, currents and the movement of food sources.

The rarity of these encounters reminds everyone that the ocean is not a zoo with a show at set times.

But when a humpback whale jumps around you and its calf imitates it, or a juvenile rushes to observe you eye to eye, we guarantee you

Read alsoFrançois Sarano: “I have never been afraid when swimming with sharks”

Meet the humpback whales

Humpback whales stop at Rurutu, in the Australs, before reaching Antarctica.

Sure Productions - The Collective 64

When the ata'e (

Erythrina variegata

) displays its huge red corollas, the inhabitants of the small island of Rurutu know that the language of flowers is in communion with the ocean.

The humpback whales (

Megaptera novaeangliae

) are back, so called the “whale tree”.

For millennia, these humpbacks, also called jubartes, have stopped at Rurutu before reaching the frozen areas of Antarctica.

The females give birth, the males sing, the juveniles are curious and come to the surface to see the swimmers.

Where ?

In Rurutu, Austral archipelago, French Polynesia.

When ?

From mid-July to mid-October.

With whom ?

With the Raie Manta Club.

Installed since 1997 on the island, it is THE whale specialist.

Yves Lefèvre, its owner, is one of the film's cameramen.

How many ?

€100 for a 3 hour outing.

Equipment provided, fins, masks, wetsuit.

Maximum 6 people.

Housing ?

Many family pensions.

But also ?

On the islands of Tahiti and Moorea, there

are more

whale watching operators, as well as private boats.

Interactions with these superb marine mammals can be less privileged.

Go with?

Pacific à la Carte.

Elsewhere ?

To the Tonga Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu, Australia (Pacific), Dominican Republic on a cruise (Caribbean), Reunion (Indian Ocean).

Read alsoIn Reunion, the return of turtles and humpback whales told by Cécile de France

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 by stunning them with their tail fins.

Very intelligent, these predators sometimes accept the company of human beings.

Launching is therefore not systematic.

The guide is the only one to decide 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 specialized operators.

How many ?

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

But also ?

The water temperature oscillates between 0 and 3°C.

It is not uncommon to also see rorquals and humpback whales.

Go with?


Elsewhere ?

In New Zealand (Kaikoura, Hauraki Gulf, Coromandel).

Approach dwarf minke whales

This small whale of 8 meters at most is found in Eastern Australia.

Mike Ball Expeditions

Balaenoptera acutorostra

is a small baleen whale up to 8 meters long and weighing 6 tons found north of the Great Barrier Reef.

It is a fairly shy mammal, which moves in small groups of two to three individuals.

As the activity takes place very far from the coast, a lifeline is launched from the boat, a rope to which the swimmers hold on to avoid drifting in the middle of the water.

Scuba diving with these sharp-nosed whales is possible too.

Where ?

In Eastern Australia, in the State of Queensland.

When ?

In June and July.

With ?

Mike Ball Expeditions, legendary Cairns operator since 1969.

How many ?

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

Go with?


Elsewhere ?

Minke whales from the northern hemisphere can be observed in Quebec, Iceland, Greenland and Mexico (Baja California).

The Antarctic minke whale, also called sei whale or

Balaena bonaerensis,

can be seen from boats traveling to Antarctica (Wilhelmine Bay).

Read alsoIn Polynesia in the wake of whales

Meet belugas

If it is called

white whale

in English, the beluga looks more like a bottlenose dolphin.

Build Movies

In English it is called

white whale


Belonging to the category of toothed whales, the beluga (

Delphinapterus leucas

), looks more like a bottlenose dolphin (4.2 m) than a whale, it must be admitted.

Extremely sociable, he lives in a community of ten or even hundreds of individuals.

This Arctic animal is found in the summer in Canadian waters in the province of Manitoba, in Churchill.

Nicknamed the canary of the sea, the beluga communicates a great deal with its fellow creatures.

Hearing its vocalizations is possible on the surface.

Where ?

In Canada.

When ?

From June to September.

With ?

Specialized operators:,

How many ?

€155 for a 3-hour outing, on a floating mat on which you lie down with a mask, without swimming.

€91 for a 2-hour outing in a semi-rigid boat.

But also ?

The beluga population residing in the Saquenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park and that of Ungava Bay is different from that of the Arctic.

Observing them is possible, swimming with them is prohibited.

Elsewhere ?

Swimming possible in Russia (White Sea, Solovki Islands).

Observations in Alaska, Norway, Greenland.

The Guardians of the Planet, by Jean-Albert Lièvre, in theaters since February 22 Photo presse

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2023-01-30

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