Chasing Moby Dick

Dancing With Whales In Vava’u

Abhishek Kothari
4 min readJul 1, 2017

Call Me Ishmael — Herman Melville, Moby Dick

It is the 4th of July Weekend in USA and I am taking a break from my normal topics of interest. I am writing this article to provide you with a glimpse of the splendor that is swimming with the whales in the Kingdom of Tonga

One of the best qualities of reading classic English literature such as Moby Dick is the fact that while the words remain unchanged for millennia, the visions that those words conjure are only limited by human imagination. Therefore, your mind can wander to thousands of different places driven by a desire to be lost.

I have always been fascinated by the ocean and its infinite expanse that makes me feel insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I believe that’s one of the primary reasons that the smell of salt and the crashing waves attract so many mariners.

However, the life in these oceans is even more breathtaking than the sun setting on a blue horizon. I have travelled to many places to watch Dolphins and Sharks but I am yet to watch Whales -the biggest mammals on earth. I affectionately call them blue gentle giants.

While most of my life, I have chased money as a means to an end. The end, for me, has been the freedom to live for others and to explore the world in all it’s beauty. That’s why, mortality is ironically my biggest motivator ie There is so much to do and so little time.

Recently, I put on my virtual reality headset and visited Vava’u in the Kingdom of Tonga. Nestled between Australia and America lies the Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific Ocean.

The Basics

The Kingdom of Tonga is an archipelago of 169 islands of which 36 are inhabited. It is a sovereign nation in Polynesia. Polynesia in Greek means ‘many islands’ and consists of 1000 islands scattered in the the central and South Pacific.

The term Polynesia was first used in 1756 by French writer Charles de Brosses, and originally applied to all the islands of the Pacific.

The inhabitants of Polynesia share many common traits including language, food and culture. In the past, they were experienced sailors who used the stars to navigate.

In 1845, George Tupou 1 created a western style state in Tonga. Later, in 1875, with the help of Shirley Waldemar Baker, he declared Tonga a constitutional monarchy. From 1901–1970, Tonga became a part of the British Western Pacific Territories.

On June 4, Tonga received independence from British protection.

Tonga consists of 106,000 people but many more live abroad in New Zealand, Australia and their remittances home help the economy of Tonga.

Agriculture and animal husbandry provide employment and the nobles control most of the monetary economy.

John H Groberg once wrote about Tonga:

We can leave a place behind, or we can stay in that place and leave our selfishness (often expressed in feeling sorry for ourselves) behind. If we leave a place and take our selfishness with us, the cycle of problems starts all over again no matter where we go. But if we leave our selfishness behind, no matter where we are, things start to improve.

Selfishness can truly bind human efforts to materialistic pursuits. Touching a whale in the ocean is the perfect antidote.

Whale Watching

Cruise ships often stop at Vava’u to watch whales swimming naturally in the Pacific. Free divers also swim with the whales and in a way, dance with them. Watch the video to catch a glimpse of Tonga:

Final Thoughts

Whale watching or diving with whales in Vava’u is not exactly the same as chasing to hunt. Rather, it is to dance under the shadow of god. While we keep thinking about making money, business, buying things and all things materialistic, the greater legacy would be to leave the earth better or at least as good as we found it.

This article is meant to inspire exploration of nature and human nature. I will leave you with environmentalist John Muir’s words:

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.



Abhishek Kothari

Futurist@The Intersection of Finance, Tech & Humanity. Stories of a Global Language: “Money”. Contributor @ Startup Grind, HackerNoon, HBR