“Hang Time”

“Hang Time”

“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities.”
― Gloria Steinem

The next in my series of whale photos is this Humpback calf, as it defies gravity, leaping from the ocean waters in a graceful twist.

It is unbelievable to witness this ‘breeching’ ritual. The calf is already close to eight meters long and would weigh about fifteen thousand kilograms. The sheer power to launch this mass from the water is incredible.

We witnessed this calf and her mother breaching and ‘pec slapping’, whereby they float on their backs and wave their pectoral fins above the water, occasionally slapping the water. The cow starts and the calf soon imitates her. She seems to be teaching the behaviour.

After a few minutes of ‘finning’, they flipped over and waved their tails. See yesterday’s post for that image. Then, the tails disappear, as they dive deep, in preparation of a ‘breech’. We sat in anticipation, not knowing where they would surface, knowing they hold their breath for up to nine minutes. Then, just a short distance from our boat, the calf bursts forth in this amazing leap, only a small portion of the tail fin still remaining in the water. Shortly thereafter, the cow also erupted from the depths, but I think her sheer mass prevents her from achieving the same height. As you can see from my camera settings below, this was shot at 135mm, so it was very close to our boat.

It’s simply awe inspiring and I feel blessed to have been there to witness, and photograph, this amazing display of strength and grace, which continued for some twenty minutes.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 135 mm
1/400 sec, f/10.0, ISO 200

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23 Comments on ““Hang Time”

  1. This is seriously amazing; the wildlife and the photography ;)! Speaking of whales there was actually a humpback that washed up on our beach, sad but crazy.

    • Thank you. The biologist on the boat mentioned that the numbers had skyrocketed since hunting was banned. I guess more whale, more likely to see one washed up? It’s such wonderful news to hear that a species is actually thriving nowadays.

  2. Speechless, Ed. Both at the image and also, the mind boggling physics behind it. Great, great capture!

  3. Pingback: “Playtime” | Ed Lehming Photography

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