Matt Thornton is a British Columbia fishing guide, but late last month while targeting halibut he captured a very unusual image showing a young humpback whale breaching alongside his boat.
The image has been shared by just about every Facebook page pertaining to marine mammals, and is even entered in a National Geographic photography contest. But beyond a brief caption there was little information about the photo, in part because Thornton had been busy fishing and difficult to reach.
But in a telephone interview Thursday he explained that he captured the image with one lucky camera shot (no motor drive), and that the whale calf exploded out of the water so close to the boat "that we could have touched it with our fishing rods."
Thornton, who works for Tofino B.C. Fishing Charters, was with two clients near Vancouver Island when they noticed that another boat had stopped to watch a larger humpback whale slapping its fins on the water.
Thornton motored over for a closer look, grabbed his camera to shoot photos of the larger whale, and before he could do that the smaller whale breached, just the one time. "It was literally 10 feet from the boat; so close that it splashed us," Thornton said.
He wasn't the only one quick on the trigger. One of the clients used an iPhone to capture the event on video, which has not been widely shared. Here it is: