It all started when Rae was 9 years old on a camping trip around the coast of New Zealand, when they discovered a beach covered with many stranded short-finned pilot whales. Her father being a naturalist & environmentalist, stopped to see if we could save them... as New Zealand was still whaling in those days and unlike today, rescue teams were not available at that time.
Rae was deeply affected by this experience and as she travelled and worked internationally an adult, she always found the places to go watch her beloved whales.
In 1998 she was told about swimming with humpbacks, just off the coast of the Dominican Republic, her reaction to this information affected her emotionally and she immediately knew she had to go there. Two months later, Rae went on a first encounter in the water with humpbacks and found herself eye-to eye with a huge female humpback whale and her calf. Within seconds she lost all sense of time and space – for about 20 minutes, only becoming aware of where she was when she heard her name being called. . . the humpback whale was still there looking at her, her calf lying asleep on her head. . . . at that moment, Rae knew her life had changed forever and that her life-time passion was to make this experience available to as many people as possible to raise the awareness of the vital importance of the conservation of the whales of our oceans.
Long story-short. . . . that evening she was told that in the northern islands of Tonga they were just beginning to offer the whale-swimming experience. Three months later in August the same year, she was in Vava’u, Tonga swimming with whales. . . the rest is history!
Rae has dedicated her life to create the best whale eco-tour experience to share with people this incredible moment forever.
Meet our Team
Always joyful, Rae is our incredibly passionate founder for WhaleSwim ! She fell in love with whales & developed WhaleSwim in 1999 to be able to share this experience with everyone in the world!
Jumping in any tour she can during the season, she will love to tell you about whales all night long! Whales have been all of her life and she always has incredible stories to tell!
When not speaking about whales, you can find her... speaking about whales of course!
Tour Leader Tonga, Norway & Timor Leste
Our Annah has been working with us for the longest time - 16 seasons! Besides being Tour Manager & Tour Leader for Tonga tours, she manages bookings for Norway and is Tour Leader for Timor Leste in 2024.
She has an equal incredible passion for orcas, whales & people.
When she is not in the water with whales, Annah helps manage the workings
of a successful tour business and ensures you a smooth booking experience
Both Skipper & Tour Guides in Moorea
Maire & Moanaroa
Maire has been working with us since 2016, as skipper of his fabulous and especially designed, licensed catamaran Cata Manu’. He is internationally known as 'The Whale Whisperer”, guiding guests in the water with humpback whales since1998, we never met somebody as connected as the whales as Maire! You will personally witness why he got the name when you see him in
His son Moanaroa joined the team since 2023 to assist as a Skipper and with groups in the water with the whales His big smile, his happy demeanour his love for whales and positive energy is contagious!
When not searching for whales or taking you swimming with them, you can find them... both surfing the reef-breaks of Moorea!
Marketing Mc Guyver & Tour Leader
Passionate about the ocean & all marine life, Marie fell in love with the whales while swimming with them in Tahiti. From the first moment seeing a calf coming towards her, she knew that she had to work with whales for the rest of her life.
She is making sure that we keep on creating this beautiful "WhaleSwim family/community" that we have with all of you & making sure our marketing platforms reflect our tours! She will be also guiding our new tours in Aiutaki in 2024!
When not sharing infos about the whales & our tours, you can find her... in the ocean surfing, diving, wakeboarding or just playing in the waves somewhere in the world!
Tour Leader Moorea
Nessta had a long love affair with the ocean starting with sailing on the UK’s South coast to scuba diving all over the world!
Back in 2004 she went on a swim with dolphins holiday and found out about whale swimming but had to wait until Tahiti 2022 to realise that dream!
Moving to NZ in 2007 she met Rae there in 2021 and was totally hooked on the mind blowing experience with a WhaleSwim in Tahiti. The experience of a close encounter with a curious baby whale and her watchful majestic mother below made her heart full to the brim with love and gratitude and tears or joy and wonder we’re stuck inside her mask. The memory still creates goodsebumps and a heart warming sensation of bliss.