By Jasmine Kazlauskas
An elated wildlife photographer has captured the ‘incredibly rare’ split-second moment a 20-ton humpback whale leaps out of the water in a breathtaking display of perfect vertical breaching.
Whale watching enthusiast John Goodridge, 54, spotted the majestic marine mammal a few kilometres out of Sydney Heads, New South Wales, Australia, while on a cruise on Sunday afternoon [JUNE 24].
The magnificent sight occurred just moments before the whale watching boat was due to head back to shore – with only a few lucky people witnessing the nine metre [30ft] whale’s spectacular ‘two second’ show.
And just two days earlier [JUNE 22], John captured another stunning display in the same area of a mammoth humpback whale breaching less than 100 metres away from a packed cruise boat.
He said the gigantic size of the whale in comparison to the boat illustrated ‘just how truly small’ people are in comparison to a fully grown adult humpback whale.
UK expat John, who is originally from Yorkshire but has lived in Australia for 24 years, said he had ‘never seen anything like this’ before in his three years of photographing whales – and was ‘thrilled’ to have caught the rare sight on camera.
He said: “There was about 70 people on our whale watching boat.
“We’d been out for about two hours and it was nearly time to go back into shore.
“All of a sudden this humpback whale jumped out of the water and did this amazing vertical breach.
“It was a remarkable sight.
“Whales usually breach to the side. But this one came up perfectly vertical.
“I’ve never seen anything like it before.
‘It’s incredibly rare.
“Most people were absolutely dumbfounded.
“A lot of people missed it.
“It happened so quick. In less than two seconds it was all over.
“We had saw a few whales that afternoon, but nothing as dramatic as that.”
The cruise was operated by skipper Simon Millar on his small family business ‘Go Whale Watching’ that has operated out of Sydney’s Darling Harbour for over ten years.
John said the humpback was probably an 8-year-old juvenile whale, which would have weighed over 20 tons and measured in at nine metres (30ft) – while full grown humpbacks can weigh in at 50 tons and can reach 18 metres (60ft).
Australia’s eastern coastline comes alive each year between April and November, as pods of humpback whales make the 10,000km journey from Antarctica to Australia in order to mate and give birth.
John said: “It is such a special time of year when the whales are migrating.
“I love going out to see them. They’re such amazing animals.
“I think this is one of my best breaching shots in my three years of photographing whales.
“It was unforgettable.”