MagazineMay 12, 2015
Double Whale Breach
Exploding into the air these pictures show the extraordinarily rare sight of two humpback whales breaching the ocean waves together.
Scientists still do not fully understand why 40-tonne whales choose to throw themselves out of the water- but why two would decide to leap into the air at the same time is a greater mystery still.
Other pictures captured by US wildlife photographer Jon Cornforth (43) off the coast of Hawaii show humpbacks breaching as they migrate towards their breeding grounds in the northern Pacific Ocean.
“Imagine my joy when these two humpbacks began choreographing their dives,” said Jon.
“Unfortunately, the wind was also really starting to howl, but I was not going to let some rough seas ruin my once in a lifetime opportunity.
My boat was getting pounded as I motored with the whales into the waves and struggled to keep my camera dry as sea spray soaked everything that was exposed.
I was barely able to push the shutter button on my camera with one hand as I steered the boat with my other.
As this spilt second was over, I quickly previewed my images.
I howled with delight when I saw that this sequence of images was properly exposed and in focus.”
The world’s estimated 6,000 humpback whales travel around 6,000 miles for six to eight weeks from their winter territories in the warm waters of the tropics to their breeding waters off the coast of Alaska.
Jon has devoted the last 15 years of his life in which he has clocked up 12 solid months boating the ocean waves as part of his mission to capture these incredible sea beasts, which can grow up to 50-feet long.
“I have gotten really proficient at steering a boat and using my camera at the same time,” said Jon.
As my friends and clients have observed when working with me.
I have a lot of patience, determination and possibly even a little bit of a sixth sense for knowing where breaching whales might appear.
The thing that I love most about photographing whales is the intense moments of exhilaration and purpose that I experience when they start to breach and I have a camera in my hand.
I forget about everything else in the world and my only goal is to get the shot.”