Mother and child reunion: ‘The moment was so beautiful, I just started crying’

Tuesday August 27, 2019 Written by Published in Environment
The baby whale and its mother. CHARLOTTE PIHO 19082602 The baby whale and its mother. CHARLOTTE PIHO 19082602

Swimming with whales for the first time was spiritual and emotional for Charlotte Piho – and especially photographing a mother and her calf.


Out on the ocean on a paddle board with plans to photograph a surfer for a new venture, Piho saw a whale and her calf at the surface of the sea, that took her breath away.

She saw them at the top, then they dived down. But she hadn’t been prepared with her camera. She was disappointed in herself at not having a moment to take photos – but she stayed there, patiently.

After 40 minutes meditating, while waiting patiently for another sighting, she was rewarded when the whales appeared only about a metre away, “one of the most amazing experiences of my life.”

Unafraid and not wearing a weight belt, Piho dived in with a mask and snorkel and her buoyant waterproof camera, “I never felt scared, fear was never a question,” she said. “I was so close I could hear their heartbeat – it was just incredible.”

Her first shots were blurry, but she persisted and eventually managed to get photographs of the whales grazing on the seabed.

Then she followed them all the way back up to the top.

“I screamed when I got to the surface, this was a dream come true.

“There’s nothing quite like it, the moment was so beautiful, I just started crying.”

Piho felt a deep sense of connection with the whales and empowerment, “I can’t really describe it.”

She has intense affection for the sea and its animals and has photographed eagle rays and turtles. And with this new experience of taking pictures of whales, Piho is eager to do more.

Having just initiated started a new business venture Moana Adventure Cook Islands, there surely will be more whale photos to come.

“This island is so magical.”

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