Swim with whales in Tonga and around the world
contact@swimmingwithgentlegiants.com
+ 61 (0) 402 124 453

Whale Vision Exhibition in Reykjavík

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The Whale Vision Exhibition premiered in Iceland’s capital with hundreds of visitors stopping by each day at the first whale conservation exhibition organized by the conservation group “Hard to Port”. My work was exhibited with some of the worlds best whale photographers to help support education and hopefully inspire others to act for our oceans and their inhabitants.

False Killer Whale Photo wins at the Photographic World Cup

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The World Photographic Cup is an international competition where countries get the opportunity to enter a portfolio of images to be presented and judged on the world stage. The AIPP, as the representative body for photography in Australia, submits work from selected members as Team Australia. I am proud to be a part of team Australia with my award winning image of a false killer whale and her calf taken in the waters of Tonga. This was selected from the Nature and Wildlife category at the Silver lining awards which won 1st place in 2020.

The efforts of all the finalists were enough to bring home the World Photographic Cup, first place overall!! Australia is now only the third country to achieve the feat of winning the WPC TWICE. Huge congratulations to the fellow Aussie team; Forough Yavari, Joshua Holko, Andy Cheung, Steve Scalone

Feature Short Film – International Ocean Film Festival

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Over the past two decades, I have devoted myself to documenting and capturing the behaviour of humpback whales in Tonga, a group of islands in the middle of the South Pacific. In 2019 I asked Director Stefan Andrews to join me in Tonga and produce a documentary about these amazing creatures and my experience learning about the intricate lives of these gentle giants. Over the past 20 years I have been collecting data to support the research efforts of many organisations. In 2014 I launched a research initiative called the Tongan Fluke Collective, which encourages visiting photographers to donate tail shots in an effort to identify individuals and learn more about the Humpback whale population in Tonga. The film shows the beauty of these majestic creatures and explores Scott’s close connection to these animals and showcases a fascinating variety of unique whale behaviour.

https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/372698210

Introducing the “Natures Great Events” series

In 2021 we are launching a new series of whale experiences in Australia and Norway. Whether you are interested in experiencing the warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef or the wonders of the Northern lights, there is something amazing for everyone in this series.

Humpback whales at Ningaloo Reef, WA

As the humpbacks arrive in large numbers to breed and give birth, you will bear witness to one of nature’s great events. The crystal clear waters of Ningaloo Reef are the perfect place for nurturing mothers teaching their calves how to be whales, while groups of whales demonstrate their overwhelming presence. Your day is filled with excitement, only stopping to explore the coral reefs and abundant marine life that inhabits the Western Australia coastline. 

Minke whales, Great Barrier Reef, QLD

Minke whales make their way through the Great Barrier Reef during the winter months which makes June and July the best months to experience these beautiful creatures up close and personal. These inherently curious whales have been known to seek out and investigate vessels in the water and enjoy interacting with swimmers which makes for a wonderful experience.

Orcas, Norway

This trip is for anyone interested in orcas, humpback whales, Northern lights and spectacular fjords. The best time of the year for this phenomena is November and January when the balance between light and access to herring and whales is at its best. The winter days in Norway provide excellent light for photography. We will spend the daylight hours looking for whales and other wildlife and, if the opportunity occurs, snorkel in the crystal clear waters.

For more information contact us through the website or directly via email at scott@scottportelli.com or +61 (0)402124453

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!