By Rebecca Lewis @RebeccaSLewis
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Videographer / Director: Darren Rice
Producer: Nick Johnson
Editor: Sonia Estal
British underwater camera operator, Darren Rice, moved from the UK to Tonga to oversee the Matafonua resort with his wife, Nina.
It is there where his three children, JJ, nine, Abbie, eight and Lily, six, mingle with the marine animals in water 500m deep.
Many parents would be reluctant to let their children swim with 40 tonne Humpback Whales, but Darren insists his kids are safe.
He said: “The whales are very gentle and accommodating. I have noted over the years that they enjoy interacting with children, especially the mothers with young babies of their own. There is no danger.
“As a resort we specialise in taking people out everyday during the season to swim with the whales.
“We are one of the few places in the world where this is permitted.
“I have been an underwater camera man now for 20 years and wouldn’t dream of placing my children in any danger.
“We take about 500 people a year to swim with the whales without incident.”
Each year the Humpback Whales return to waters surrounding Foa Island, where the resort is based, to mate and give birth.
And Darren’s three children are present in the ocean to witness the miraculous event.
The children have even formed a special bond with two of the whales, which they have nicknamed Narla and Geraldine.
Darren said: “They have been here several times with newborn babies.
“They particularly enjoy the children's company.
“Last year Geraldine kept pushing her new baby boy over toward the children encouraging him to interact.
“We see lots of the same whales every year.
“Mothers with newborns tend to visit the same nursery areas to give birth and to nurse.”
But Darren and his young charges are careful to give the mammals their much-needed space.
“We always maintain a safe distance from the whales not because they are a threat but the babies often only weeks old can be very clumsy and when a five tonne baby gets clumsy you don't want to be nearby.”
Visit the Matafonua resort here: www.matafonua.com