The story behind our best whale breach photo


Whale Breach!

Just over a year ago, we were on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island. While we were there, we took every opportunity we could survey the ocean in search of a humpback whale. We loved it.

On our final evening before flying back home, we took a sunset catamaran sail with Ocean Sports, which also served as a dinner cruise and whale watching cruise. Bonus! (See my review of Ocean Sports Big Island Sunset Sail from our first experience with them. Notice that the review includes a video of an unexpected and very exciting close encounter with a humpback.)

Within a few minutes of starting our catamaran adventure, we started seeing some whale spouts (exhalations) and whales “logging” or floating near the surface. Then they’d disappear. We believe we may have been observing a mother, a calf and a male. We’d still keep our eyes in the general direction of where we saw the whales as we floated along the Kohala Coastline. Several minutes would pass with no signs of the whales at all.

Andy had snapped photos like the following, which were good, but the whales were somewhat subdued. They’re interesting whale shots, but not like the epic breach we were hoping to see and catch on film.

humpback whale tail (fluke)

Humpback Whale makes a splash in Hawaii

More time would pass with nothing to see. Then, the moment we’d been waiting for – a huge humpback breaches just about 30 yards from us.

Whale Breach!

Here’s how Andy described the scene and how with just a little luck he was able to capture the shot albeit a bit out of focus.

A funny story behind this shot.

So, we’re on a whale watching tour and had seen a few whales from a distance.

While taking a break, this big old humpback decides to breach about 30 yards from the boat.

My camera was hanging at my waist, but I happened to have my finger on the shutter. 😉

And instinct took over.

I knew I couldn’t get the viewfinder to my eye fast enough, so I just kept my finger on the shutter and fired off half a dozen shots before my camera’s buffer was full.

So forgive this shot being a little blurry, but it almost never happened! 🙂

I certainly don’t mind the blur. When I see the photo, I’m almost instantly taken back to that moment of amazement seeing this massive animal emerge from what seem like “out of nowhere”.

6 comments
  1. So Cool! They are amazing creatures. It can be hard to get a pic, you are lucky, that is great. We were in Alaska on a catamaran to see wildlife, sealife and calving glaciers. We were so lucky to see a female and calf, the mother pooped in the water. So nasty but kind of cool too. :>) Then later we saw a humpback breach over and over all the way around the boat! Like he was trying to make sure everyone got to see how cool he was! Memorable for sure!!

    1. Well, Janet, that’s first for this blog — whale poop. Hahahaha! Isn’t nature something?!

      For some more whale nature stuff — when we were in Alaska, we smelled whale breath….oh my gosh it smelled terrible. 🙂

      What a treat it must have been to see that breach over and over! I love those rare times when you get to witness something like that. I like to think that the whales are showing off and having fun. I wonder what’s really running through their minds?

  2. It was an amazing breach and I’m just thankful that I had my hand on the camera shutter as it was all over in just a couple of seconds.

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