Eduardo Acevedo Fernandez
was not swallowed by the gigantic sea creature he encountered recently
near the Canary Islands. But the short period he spent only a few feet
away from the freakish-looking behemoth “were five seconds I will never
forget in my life.”
The creature, although it resembles an alien being you might see
featured in a science-fiction movie, was identified by Acevedo as a Bryde’s whale.
Acevedo’s extraordinary photographs reveal the gargantuan mammal just
as it has ingested practically an entire school of bait fish. If you
look closely, you can see its eye and, in two of the photos, its dorsal
Bryde’s whales are capable of extending and dislocating their lower
jaw while feeding, in a manner similar to that of snakes, to encompass
more foot. Their throat pleats, visible in the photos, span more than
half of their bodies. This helps explain the balloon effect captured by
To capture these kind of images requires a combination of luck, bravado, and more luck.
The photos have been widely shared on Facebook and on Tuesday
Acevedo, a Spaniard who lives in Madrid, shared a brief back story
regarding the “gray, dark, and windy day” in the Atlantic, outside the
port of Los Gigantes, in Tenerife.
“After two hours of navigation I spotted in the distance something
like a hurricane of birds throwing themselves at the sea,” the
photographer said, via email. “Quickly we headed to where we saw
something amazing, hundreds of common and spotted dolphins attacking a
big ball of sardines, along with three [Bryde's] whales.
“The idea was to capture the exact moment of the whale attack on the
ball of sardines, but we knew it was very difficult because of her
Bryde’s whales, which range in tropical and temperate waters, can measure to about 50 feet and swim in bursts of up to 13 mph.
After several unsuccessful attempts to photograph feeding whales,
Acevedo and his group finally anticipated correctly and jumped in just
before a feeding event.
“I only had five to six seconds after the whale opened its mouth to
eat, until it passed about three feet from me,” Acevedo said. “This huge
mammal was about 12 meters long.”
He tried to position himself for more opportunities for the next 30
minutes. But by then the whales had consumed all the sardines and
“everything was left in absolute calm.”
Acevedo used a Canon 5D Mark II, and a 15-millimeter lens in a water housing. He was shooting at F8, 1/160th, at ISO 400. –Find Pete Thomas on Facebook and Twitter