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6 Incredible Photos of Whales

Updated on May 14, 2012

Everyone loves whales, but you’re going to love them even more when you see these incredible photos. Taken under extraordinary circumstances, these photos go beyond whale watching and take you up close and personal with the most magnificent creatures in the world.

This 40-ton whale jumped out of the water and crashed onto the sailboat of a couple sailing off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa. Moments before the animal leapt it had pounded its tail on the surface of the water in a 'lob-tailing' ritual to communicate with other whales. The whale was estimated to be as long as 11 to 14 metres, but neither the whale nor the couple were injured. The boat, however, wasn’t so lucky.

This incredible photo, taken in the Auckland Islands, New Zealand, shows a 50-ton right whale getting up close and personal with a wildlife photographer and his assistant. Right whales are critically endangered, and many of them in this particular region had never seen humans before. They were curious, not aggressive—a fact that the photographer was grateful for when he found himself sandwiched between two 45-foot whales.

Antarctic killer whales, as seen from the sky. Killer whales inhabit all oceans of the world, from the Arctic to Antarctica, making them the second most widely distributed mammal. With numbers estimated at 70000 to 180000, the Antarctic population is by far the largest.

Russia’s White Sea is a haven for belugas. A natural bay under the ice provides protection from the strong currents of the wider ocean, making it the ideal place for a thriving whale sanctuary. This “natural farm” acts as both a nursery for breeding whales and a rehabilitation centre for former performing animals before they’re set into the wild. As this photo shows, the whales are exceptionally curious and often swim to the surface to greet divers.

Most people associate these photos with the story of a whale saying “thank you” after being untangled from fishing nets, but they were actually taken by professional photographers during an expedition in the South Pacific. The photographer, Marco Queral, was very cautious when he approached the whales, saying they must be in the right mood to let him get so close. Humpback whales are gentle and timid by nature, but a misplaced flick of the tail has the potential to be deadly.


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    • bamuscarella profile image

      Brittany 5 years ago from Buffalo, NY

      These photos are amazing. Thank you for sharing.