Wave-energy explodes against the Tongatapu Coast at 'Ahononou, Tonga

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Comments (32)

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aticank Nikolay Kole… on September 24, 2010

Interesting shot! Regards from Bulgaria! Nikolay

Ian Stehbens on September 25, 2010

Thanks aticank for sharing in this awesome experience with me. Greetings from Tonga to Hungary.


Ian Stehbens on September 25, 2010

Greetings, Marcus. Thanks for your appreciation of this event. There is a small German connection here.

When the wave explodes, it produces its rebounding wave which goes back out to sea. As the rebouding wave does so, it will encounter the incoming waves. As they do, the moment of passing by the 2 waves moving in opposite directions produces a sheet of white water that leaps into the air. This just keeps happening. The locals call them "white horses". Now there is the German link: though Theodor Storm wrote imaginatively about the "Rider on the White Horse", set on the Schleswig-Holstein coast, I am sure he never imagined the awe of this white horse phenomena here in Tonga!

And board riders couldn't ride these white horses, so they will remain riderless.


Maja Weidemueller on September 25, 2010

Thank you for the most interesting information Ian, and good night :) Sure you are right about Th. Storm - one day I'll read him to you if you want... I find poets sound best in the original language. Love ot Tonga ~ Maja~~~

ƤōƝƓ on September 25, 2010

WOW!! Spectacular shot! The energy released from the explosion must be enormous!!!

Golden ☆ + Like

ah-pong from Thailand

Ian Stehbens on September 27, 2010

My turn for another WOW, Ah-Pong. Thanks for your appreciation!

It is a photo that I treasure and it's only a couple of weeks old! It is something most visitors should see, but then there are many Tongans who haven't seen this either.

All the best,


Ian Stehbens on September 27, 2010

Dear Maja,

Herr Storm is a bit of a favourite of mine, for through his writing I was able to get in touch with some of my roots. During my first visit to Dithmarschen in 1978, a filmcrew were on location for the filming of Der Schimmelreiter. We actually picked up one of the extras and transported him south to Heide, for I think that some of the filming may have been in Denmark.

I'd love you to read him that you might be my teacher in regard to his world and his literature.


Amelia Royan on September 27, 2010

I can almost hear the booming noise from Norway dear Ian. Explosion is a fitting word. It is a wonder that there is any coastline left. I wonder how much of it is eroded each year?

Warm greetings from Norway, Amelia

Ian Stehbens on October 2, 2010

Dear Amelia,

Your thoughts and queries have really made me think about this. Thanks. I suspect that the waves actually contribute to the building of this coast. The aeration of the water accelerates the coral growth and the growth of algaes which together build up and harden the rocks. This coast is tectonically rising as well so the fringing reefs protect the cliffs, except in wild storms.

Consider this photo - for here the explosion is mostly in the water and not against the cliff face! The free waves have long wavelenths and heights so much of their tremendous energy is detonated beneath the water by the reef. Yes there is attack of the coast and the cliff, but it is not as one-sided here as at first it may seem.

I was drawn back to this site again this week, but it was much quieter, big explosions like this one were only occasional. The local wind had generated much more chop in the water, so their was much more going on, but not at this scale.

There would be some stunning high-energy coasts outside the fiords in Norway too, I am sure.

It is great to be able to communicate through Pano with you, Amelia. Ian

Maja Weidemueller on October 2, 2010

Hi dear Amelia, hello Ian!

Thank you for your explanation above Ian ~ they show once more how important it is to learn, to know ~ you see only what you know ~ and any "explosion" looking quite destructive to anyone at first sight ~ I would join Amelia's impression here ~ turns out very different when considering the specific background ~ thank you for sharing this dear Ian! And as to Storm and your comment above: we will find the tme, and I will not forget to bring his works ~~~

A very good weekend to both of you dear friends!


Ian Stehbens on October 12, 2010

May the storms of life go around you, from now on, Maja.


Ian Stehbens on February 28, 2011

Indeed, Ian, but this was a recurrent event every 30 secs or so. Some days it is explosive like this other days it is more subdued, but this is quite common for the South Pacific extends some 8000kms to the SE uninterrupted, so it is an awesome fetch.

I appreciate your visit and response.



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Photo details

  • Uploaded on September 18, 2010
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    by Ian Stehbens