Nature is truly a wonderful thing. Our world is filled with a stunningly diverse array of creatures, from tiny mice to gigantic whales. Whales in particular trigger a certain wonder in humans, so much so that whale watching has become a favorite tourist activity around the world. Recently, a humpback whale gave workers on a fishing vessel the show of a lifetime.
Humpback whales are a type of baleen whale that can grow to an incredible 52 feet in length. Humpback whales can be found swimming in oceans around the world at different times of the year. During the summer, they spend their time in higher latitude areas, like the Gulf of Alaska and the Gulf of Maine. In the Winter, they swim to warmer waters near the equator. Humpbacks live year round in the Arabian sea.
In 1988, humpback whales were listed as endangered, but populations have since recovered to approximately 60,000 whales.
Humpbacks are known for a behavior called breaching, which is where they propel themselves out of the water and then come back down, creating an enormous splash. Some believe that whales breach in order to remove parasites and other debris, but you have to admit, when you see them doing it it looks like a lot of fun! Breaching could also be associated with mating, dominance, health, or other social behaviors.
Recently, fishers at work in Monteray Bay, California were treated to an incredible sight: a breaching humpback whale incredibly near to their fishing vessel. The video and associated photographs captured the moment the whale shot up out of the sea.
“The whale is huge! If I’d been the fisherman, I’d probably need some new underwear,” remarked Douglas Craft, the photographer who captured the moment. What’s perhaps most stunning is just how small the boat looks compared to the whale.
“I went below deck to shoot from a porthole close to the water line. That’s what gives this amazing perspective of looking up at the whale,” said Craft.
With Craft was Kate Cummings, a whale watcher, who took footage of the whale breaching.
“It was fun capturing this video,” Cummings said. “The whale had already breached multiple times much further away from the fisherman. But sometimes when whales breach multiple times, they’re also heading a specific direction when they’re underwater building momentum for the next breach.”
“I figured the next breach would be around the fisherman because the whale was heading that way and sure enough! Though I didn’t expect the whale and the boat to line up so perfectly.”
You can watch the video of the whale breaching here: