By Pete Thomas/GrindTv
Jeff Hester was diving recently at Cabo Pulmo in the Sea of Cortez when he encountered a rare event described as a fish tornado.
Thousands of jacks had schooled tightly together and the massive “meatball” was spinning like a twister, leaving Jeff and his wife Tori “awestruck.”
The honeymooners were on their first trip to the renowned dive site, 60 miles north of Cabo San Lucas at Baja California’s tip.
The image was featured this week by National Geographic as its “Photo of the Day,” under the title, “All the Fish in the Sea.”
The image shows Tori Hester hovering just above the sea floor, slightly beneath the fish tornado, mesmerized by the phenomenon.
“We were swimming along and saw a small band of jacks heading away from us, so we followed them,” Jeff described to GrindTv. “That small band slowly grew bigger and bigger until just off in the distance, this massive fish tornado appeared.
“I was awestruck. I had never seen anything like that before in my life.”
As a photographer, Jeff’s reaction was swift. He motioned for Tori to swim toward the tornado, so he could use her to provide a sense of scale for the image.
“I want to bring the viewer into the frame and imagine themselves as the human subject looking at this remarkable scene,” he explained.
Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, beyond a remote section of Baja’s coast, is a vast system of reefs that has been protected from fishing since 1995, allowing sea life to thrive.
Several species of jacks breeze through the area, and sometimes swim in schools so large that they can blot out the sun for divers exploring the reefs or rocky bottom.
Another famous fish tornado image was captured at Cabo Pulmo in 2012 by Octavio Aburto, showing another diver, David Castro, in a “David and Goliath” pose next to the swirling mass of fish.
Aburto, a scientist, described the tornado phenomenon as a spawning event.