As a swimmer, I don’t think there’s anything as breathtaking (in a good way) as the approach of a great whale, particularly a blue whale. It’s extremely rare, and fits the photographer’s adage f/8 and be there.  The handful of underwater images you see here are the byproduct of decades of offshore float trips.  The surest way to see  whales and dolphins in southern California is aboard a tour boat. There are a number of responsible operators from San Diego to Santa Barbara offering great viewing opportunities. Their platforms range from large, comfortable vessels to custom adventures aboard quick smaller boats. – MJ

How many whales do you see?

What is striking about the smallest whale?


There are three humpback whales in this image. At first, I did not see the third whale whose fluke and left pectoral fin show below the cow and calf. What strikes me is the missing left half of the calf’s fluke and the scarring along its left side. It’s unclear what caused the avulson: a ship strike or boat propeller? At the time, I did not notice this, either. There was nothing about the calf’s cadence through the water that signaled a handicap. In nature, signs of weakness attract predators: so it’s best to carry on as normally as possible. In the human world, we have deep respect for people who overcome great challenges and don’t simply “keep up” but excel.