This Is What It’s Like to Dive into a Humpback Whale Brawl

by Owen James Burke


“Not every interaction is so calm and peaceful. When you swim with whales, sometimes you get a playful juvenile, but other times you can find yourself in the middle of an all out frenzy.” Above: Four male humpback whales in a scuffle. Photo: Karim Iliya (video below).

Photographer Karim Iliya was in the waters off Vava’u in the island nation of Tonga last August when he found four male humpback whales fighting for–you guessed it–the honor of a single female.


Photo: Karim Iliya.

“Looking back on the images that I had taken I see that the whales were looking at me, even as they fought”, recalls photographer Karim Iliya. “It is a true testament to the gentleness of these giants that they would take the time and effort to avoid crushing this tiny little creature before them.”


Photo: Karim Iliya.

Listen to Iliya share about his experience below:

View more of Maui-based Karim Iliya’s photography here, and watch an aerial video put together by Illaya and Scuttlefish friend Chris Burkard here. -OJB

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