Moon Jellies

A couple of evenings ago, as Ruth was just preparing to turn in with her book in hand, Randy called out from the cockpit where he’d gone for a last look around: “come up here and see this!” Outside, peering over the edge of the boat was Randy, pointing to a mass of floating jellyfish slowly moving up on the incoming tide.They were moon jellies, thousands of them, perhaps millions for all we could tell. The water was milky white with their bodies. They surrounded Velic and as deep and as far as we could see in the dark, the water had this milky look. Twenty minutes later, they were gone and the water around the boat was a clear deep blue again. Moon jellyfish are common in the western Pacific. We had seen them before, sometimes several of them together. But we had never witnessed such a mass of them. It was eery, and beautiful.

Moon jellyfish, looking over the side of Velic. The bright light is from a flashlight that Randy is holding.

More moon jellyfish…

The rest of this blog will be photos taken on walks around and beyond Neiafu while Velic was on a mooring in the harbor there.

On a mooring in Neiafu harbor. You can see Velic just right of center in the photo, with the green sheer stripe. This is a “cyclone hole” and very secure anchorage, right off Tonga’s second largest town.

Private home on the main road out of town. Most homes are surrounded by either a wall or a wire fence or sometimes both. Not sure why; there’s almost no crime here, and pigs, chickens and dogs roam freely, so it’s not about keeping the livestock off your yard. Perhaps it’s just the custom.

Small fishing wharf in the ‘Old Harbor’.

A fellow we’ve seen around town, one of a number of Palingi (white person) ex-pats living here in Neiafu. He is rebuilding this catamaran in his front yard with plans to start a charter business. Randy walked over for a brief chat and learned that the project has become a landmark.

Another neatly-kept private home we passed on one of our walks.

A dug-out trough beneath a shelter, purpose unknown but obviously deliberately kept and used for something.

One of our walks took us out of town about 3km to see a seaside cave on the eastern side of the island. More on the cave below. Along the way we passed yet another cemetery. Cemeteries are always colorfully decorated and carefully maintained. This one included what we assume to be a family “mausoleum” of concrete block and cyclone fencing, covered with a roof. Rand thought the sow in cemetery was amusing. She thought he was interesting.

The Story of Veimumuni (from Vei-mo-Muni) Cave and Freshwater Pool: It is said that Vei, a beautiful woman, would sit at the entrance to the cave and brush her long locks. A tevolo (mischievous spirit) named Muni lived on the peninsula near the village of Makave and every afternoon as Vei teasingly brushed her hair, Muni would gaze longingly across the water at her. But he knew that if he would make an attempt to reach her, she would soon vanish as soon as he started on the long journey in her direction. So, one day, in order to trick Vei, Muni who was weeding his garden with a hoe (huo-epu), took off his white hat and put it on top of his mids of his garden, on the peninsula, so when Vei looked over from here distant spot, she would see the white hat and think the tevolo was safely ensconced on his peninsula, unable to reach her….

Looking across the Old Harbor bay towards the peninsula, to the northeast. The tide had just turned and was beginning to rise. If you time it right you can walk back to Neiafu on this rocky beach, but we decided there wasn’t time enough to avoid getting very wet, so took the road back into town.

Ruth looking out over the ‘Old Harbor.’ The cave is in the cliff face behind.


House we passed on the walk to Veimomuni cave. Larger than most, with a nice wrap-around veranda to help keep it cool. It sits on a hillside facing the SE trade winds. Very nice.

A sign promoting recycling for the environment in front of one of the elementary schools. You can just see the school in the background. We met one student’s father who was waiting for his ride alongside the road. He explained it was a holiday, so no kids in school that day. His own son had attended this school and was now enrolled in university in Fiji, studying engineering.

Municipal recycling “bin” just outside the school gate. We saw a number of these along the main road.

One of at least two derelict “international” hotel resort facilities in and around Neiafu. All are quite large, were obviously intended to be luxurious, and are now either abandoned or were never completed, and all are slowly falling apart. Neiafu doesn’t seem large enough to support tourist facilities of this size. Perhaps that’s why they are now abandoned. The small back-packer hostels, smaller beach front resorts, and bed-and-breakfast businesses seem to be doing well, though. These smaller business may be more appropriately sized for the type and volume of tourist trade.

One of the very few cows we have seen in Tonga. With an ear tag, none the less. Pigs aren’t tagged or branded, or constrained in any way. But everyone seems to know which pigs belongs to which family.

Sow and sucklings, enjoying another sunny day undisturbed.

We have enjoyed Tonga very much, but it’s time to move on. We’re now off to Fiji and looking forward to new islands and a new culture.


4 thoughts on “Moon Jellies

  1. Jellies are amazing and beauful. I surfaced through a field of jellies once on a scuba dive in puget sound. The exposed skin on my face did not enjoy it. But what happen Vei and Muni?! You never finished the story!


  2. Thanks for these wonderful photos! I’ve seen jellyfish colonies like these from various vessels in PNG and Fiji, but in the daytime. I wonder if they were the same type.? As to the dugout trough beneath the shelter, I think that these were community mortars, used with multiple pestles for pounding foodstuffs, kava, and even the inner bark of the mulberry in the first stage of making tapa. The shelter protected the trough, to make it last longer.


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