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2020 Kangaroo Island Fundraiser

We are truly humbled by the response we’ve received to our fundraiser for the rescue and rehabilitation efforts for the wildlife who have been injured in the recent Australian bushfires.

We originally started with a fundraising target of $5,000 and we were quickly blown away by the generous international response we received, ending up with a staggering total of $33,200 in 10 days!

We will be distributing the funds across the various organisations in Kangaroo Island, you can see the work all these organisations and independent carers are doing:

We received 1668 entries and we are excited to announce the winners of our raffle draw and are excited to announce that our winners are: First prize: Mark Kennedy and Second prize: Gioia Mansard.

Congratulations to you both!

Thank you again to everyone who contributed, sent messages of support and offers of assistance to help with this important cause!

Swimming with Gentle Giants appearing at the 2020 Ocean Film Festival

I’m excited to announce that my film Swimming with Gentle Giants will be featured as part of the 2020 Ocean Film Festival!

Produced and directed by Stefan Andrews from Ocean Imaging, Swimming with Gentle Giants explores my close connection to humpback whales and showcases some of the unique behaviours I’ve experienced while swimming with them in the pristine waters of Tonga.

Australian & New Zealand ocean lovers will be able to immerse themselves in the wonders of the ocean without getting their feet wet this coming February to April as the Ocean Film Festival World Tour makes a splash in cinemas across both countries. The festival, which features a carefully curated selection of the world’s most captivating ocean-themed will light up silver screens in 35 towns and cities.

Tickets and screening times are available here

 

A big shout out to my amazing skipper Sione Fifita, expert local guide Vili Takau and Whales in the Wild who have supported and guided my adventures in Tonga for many years and who have helped make this film possible.

Wildlife photographer Paul Nicklen visits Tonga

We were honoured to have one of the world’s most acclaimed nature photographers, filmmakers and marine conservationists Paul Nicklen and his team from SeaLegacy visit us in Tonga recently. Paul has spent over 20 years documenting the beauty and the plight of our planet and as an assignment photographer for National Geographic magazine, he captures and inspired the imagination of a global audience.

Paul is also the co-founder of non-profit, SeaLegacy which plays a crucial role in ocean conservation centred around extraordinary visual storytelling using a team of the world’s best photographers and filmmakers to capture the beauty and the threats below the surface of our oceans. SeaLegacy then utilises the incredible captured media to fuel, inspire and fund global campaigns that trigger lasting and sustainable change to protect our precious oceans. You can read more about their inspiring work here.

We had some truly amazing experiences and interactions with the whales during the week, we even got to see some baby whale dancing (Check out Paul’s awesome Instagram footage!).

We think Paul summed up our experience perfectly:

Thanks to Paul and his team for visiting us in Tonga!

 

2020 Tonga Photography Workshops with Linda Beks 

We are excited to announce that award winning photographer, Linda Beks will be joining us to run photography workshops in Tonga during our 2020 season.

If you are interested in capturing some great images while you are swimming with the humpback whales then these trips are the ones to book. No photography experience is required and Linda will cover everything from basic tips and tricks to more advanced techniques.

Linda Beks tour dates:

 

 

Scott Portelli + SWGG featured in Let’s Travel magazine

We’re excited to share that Scott Portelli and SWGG were recently featured in Roderick Eime‘s article for Let’s Travel magazine! Scott is always passionate about sharing his interactions with these beautiful creatures and we think this quote sums up the Swimming with Gentle Giants experience perfectly:

“Everything is happening in slow motion. Time seems to stand still. Hours tick by like minutes. The majestic, 40-tonne mammals appear to hover beneath the surface. Graceful and agile, these enormous creatures are hypnotic in their action, moving effortlessly through strong currents and at times appearing stationary just a few metres beneath you. It is a truly humbling experience to be in the company of these sublime, gentle monsters.”

Thanks to Let’s Travel magazine and Roderick for the great article!

The Bucket List Family – 4th visit to Tonga!

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Recently, SWGG hosted Garrett, Jessica, Dorothy and Manilla Gee (aka The Bucket List Family), along with their friends Jim and Alicia Ward. This was The Bucket List Family’s 4th year with us here in Tonga and we were excited to spend time with old friends out on the water.

We were lucky enough to have some amazing up close and personal encounters with Mums and their calves, swimming alongside giant bait balls in caves and best of all, front row seats to a thrilling heat run. It was awesome to see how excited Dorothy (6) and Manilla (5) were to be in the water with the whales and their bravery and water skills as they leap from the boat into the water so they could experience the heat run for themselves!

You can check out the highlights of their time with us below!

Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the year 2019 – Winner with whales

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Honoured to be announced the winner of the behaviour category for the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the year 2019. This was an image I took of a heatrun of 14 humpback whales and 50 dolphins in the South Pacific. One of natures most powerful displays and with an entourage of rough toothed dolphins, was truly an amazing experience. I feel privileged to have witness this spectacular behaviour from so many beautiful cetaceans. Every day I am on the water means a chance of seeing something amazing, but I couldn’t do this without my long time friend and Skipper Sione Fifita and the team from Whales in the Wild.

Tonga Swim with whales in 2020

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Just released our new dates for 2020, we still have spaces available for next year, so if this has been a life long dream, come join Swimming With Gentle Giants for the experience of a lifetime.

Tour 1 – 11th -22nd July (7 Days) – Vavau
Tour 2A – 23rd – 30th (7 Days) – Vavau
Tour 2 – 23rd July – 1st Aug (7 Days) – Vavau
Tour 3A – 1st -12th August (7 Days) – Vavau
Tour 3 – 1st -12th August (7 Days) – Vavau
Tour 4A – 11th – 19th August (7 Days) – Vavau
Tour 4 – 12th – 20th August (7 Days) – Vavau
Tour 5 – 22nd Aug -2ndSept (7 Days) – Vavau
Tour 6 – 4th Sept – 13th Sept (7 Days) – Vavau
Tour 6H – 1st -12th Sept (7 Days) – Haapai
Tour 7 – 14th – 25th September (7 Days) – Vavau
Tour 7H – 12th – 22nd September (6 Days) – Haapai
Tour 8 – 25h Sept – 3rd Oct (7 Days) – Vavau
Tour 8H – 22nd – 30th Sept (7 Days)- Haapai
Tour 8A – 29h Sept – 3rd Oct (7 Days) – Vavau
Tour 9 – 5th – 13th October (7 Days) – Vavau
Tour 9A – 7th – 13th October (7 Days) – Vavau
Tour 10 – 14th – 23rd October (8 Days) – Vavau

Scott Portelli featured on “The Pod: Ocean Swimming”

We’re excited to share that Scott Portelli was recently featured on Marc West’s podcast series “The Pod: Ocean Swimming”.

Marc and Scott discuss the amazing experience of swimming with different species of whales, the ocean, marine life and all things underwater in this insightful and informative interview.


Photo by Joanna Lentini

photographer scott portelli profile shot

Ignite Sydney Talk – 1000 Days underwater with whales

Late last year I was asked to speak at the Ignite Sydney event. The rules of Ignite is simple – presenters stick to a format of 20 slides, each of which changes automatically after 15 seconds, giving a guaranteed 5 minute presentation. This is not as easy as you might think and 15 seconds is really not a lot of time, but it was a great experience and a well organised event which I had the privilege of being a part of. I look forward to seeing the next installment of this long standing Sydney event.

You can see my talk about my life spent with Humpback whales below.