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Having a whale of a time


Having a whale of a time: The British underwater cameraman who got more than he bargained for when encountering a playful calf

By Daily Mail Reporter
24th January 2011

These spectacular images show the moment a one-ton whale calf came to play with a British underwater cameraman.
Roger Munns from Cornwall, was diving in Toku, Tonga, to film 50-ton, 14-metre male humpback whales fighting over females in a super heavy-weight battle of nature.
But by chance the 35-year-old and his team encountered a mother and calf in an location favoured by females weaning their young because of its sheltered bays and inlets.
Play time: Mr Munn played tag with the whale calf for about an  hour off the coast of Tonga
Play time: Roger Munns played tag with the whale calf for about an hour off the coast of Tonga

And, probably encouraged by the huge contests around him, the calf 'bounded' towards Mr Munns looking for some watery fun, while his mum eased back and allowed the new encounter.
He said: 'I've heard about calves doing this but I was not prepared for the playful nature at all.
'He seemed to scamper towards us like a giant excited pony and wanted to play tag like a little puppy.
'I couldn’t help but laugh as the calf kept bumping into me with an extremely naughty glint in its eye, but it was clearly in the name of fun.
'Up close you suddenly realised just how big it actually was.
'The games continued for an hour and I have to admit it was probably one of the most enjoyable hours I have spent in the water.'
You're it! The one-ton baby touches the British diver's flipper as  if to tag him
You're it! The one-ton baby touches the British diver's flipper as if to tag him
Splish splash: The whale calf playfully rolls around the diver,  while is unconcerned mother watches on
Splish splash: The whale calf playfully rolls around the diver, while is unconcerned mother watches on

But not all whales behave so playfully at this time of year.
Procreation is serious business and hen the males arrive, their testosterone levels are high and they are eager to find a mate.
The presence of a receptive female can lead to competitive rowdy groups as challenging males physically struggle to displace her escort.
These conflicts can be very physical, last for hours, and cover many miles as each whale fights for the favoured position at the female's side.
Game for a laugh: The whale bounded up to the 35-year-old and his  team and nudged him with a cheeky glint in his eye
Game for a laugh: The whale bounded up to the 35-year-old and nudged him with a cheeky glint in his eye


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