Southern Right Whales

Note: A photographic permit is necessary to photograph the whales underwater. This image was shot under permit 000959/2022-MTyAP.
Equipment: Canon 5D Mark IV, Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L fisheye lens, Nauticam housing, natural light
Settings: 1/400 sec, f/4.5, ISO 250
Location: Península Valdés, Argentina

SOUTHERN RIGHT WHALES spend a few months each year in Península Valdés, Argentina, to mate and nurse their calves. My whale encounter there was one of the most challenging I have experienced: The water is cold — about 50°F (10°C) — and the visibility is usually low. It was also one of my most rewarding and memorable experiences. 

On this day we found a mother and calf relaxing at the surface. I layered up with every bit of neoprene I owned, slid into the water, and started swimming slowly toward the pair, stopping every few meters so they would get used to us. When they did, the calf started coming toward us, getting closer with each approach. 

The calf was extremely curious and became more confident and a bit boisterous after about 20 minutes. As thrilling as it was to see it coming faster and closer with each pass, we decided to end this amazing encounter and return to the boat. AD

© Alert Diver — Q2 2023