Nothing is quite like swimming with a humpback whale. Believe it or not, this is a baby! Despite our language (and culture and species) barrier, her intelligence and playfulness shone through right away. As I snorkled at the surface, she came up every minute or two to take a breath (the adults only breathe every 15 minutes or so). Each time, she got closer and closer until she was almost tackling me. In those precious few moments, I felt I really formed a connection with this beautiful creature. I will never forget the experience.
As an aside, this photo and many other spectacular ones were almost lost altogether when in haste I later jumped in the water and didn't properly close one latch on the camera case. After many hours of drying, stressing, and stitching files together I managed to recover all the photos. So don't be foolish like me ... back up your photos after every outing.
Thanks to +Eric Cheng and +Tony Wu for encouraging me to make this journey to the Vava'u island group.