Tony Wu Photography

"I look forward to a future in which people and whales have the chance to interact more and more and to the bonds that may grow between our species from such interactions."

- Among Whales, Roger Payne


I have devoted a substantial portion of my life to learning about humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). I started in 1998, failed miserably. There wasn't a great deal of collective knowledge and experience with in-water encounters at the time, at least not that was available to me. So I went through a lot of trial-and-error, plus reading of books and scientific papers. It's a good thing that I'm stubborn.

It wasn't until I began to understand the whales' behaviour that magic happened. I've now spent so much time with them that these days, my gut feeling about what a given whale or group of whales is likely to do is pretty good. It'll never be perfect, of course. They are wild animals with places to go, things to do. Too many people tend to forget that. Never trust a person who claims definitive knowledge about whales, or anything else in the natural world for that matter.

There is no way I can share all the humpback whale photos that I'd like to, but below are a handful of selected images, in no particular order. Click to enlarge and hover your mouse to read short captions.



Sometimes there are special moments, ones that don't always result in prize-winning images, but times when you feel that the hours spent, the income foregone, the endless patience...were all worthwhile. Like the moment when a female humpback whale trusts you enough to let you watch her nurse her child.


This young humpback whale needs lot of thick, rich milk from his mother to grow big and strong.


Each photo represents a special experience. For most images, I can recall just about every detail—the place, the sea and weather conditions, the behaviour of the whales. If you've heard me give a public talk, you'll know how easily I can get sidetracked explaining the specific circumstances of a specific photograph. That is because there are stories, then stories behind the stories. And often, stories that connect over time and geographic range into a coherent narrative. Connecting the dots and figuring out the puzzles is the whole point of doing this.



I can't call this a favourite image, not in the sense that I'm fond of it. But I feel compelled to share it here. Pictured below is a humpback whale hopelessly entangled by longlines. It was weak, sick, surrounded by sharks...the swimming dead. Read the story and/ or click to view my Evernote notebook of Entanglement articles.


Humpback whales are particularly prone to entanglement.