By Pete Thomas
Sometimes, as a photographer armed with a long lens, you can find yourself a little too close to the action.
That appeared to be the case Saturday for Slater Thomas Moore, when a humpback whale suddenly emerged between two boats and slapped its tail.
Moore, who was aboard one of the boats, the Ocean Explorer out of Davey’s Locker in Newport Beach, was shooting with a 100- to 400-millimeter lens and was only 20 to 30 feet away.
Yet the photographer somehow managed to fit most of the tail-end of the whale in the frame, and also captured the reactions of those watching from the other boat, which was also 20 to 30 feet from the whale.
The result was one of the more unique whale images to have been captured this summer off Southern California, where humpback whales, blue whales, and fin whales have been providing plenty of shooting opportunities.
“We were watching it, and then it just threw its tail at the boat,” Moore said. “It was amazing.
Humpback whales are known for their curious behavior and will often approach whale-watching vessels. It’s not clear whether the tail-slap was a “You’re too close” warning, or merely playful behavior.
Moore captured several other photos of the same whale, including the accompanying breach shot, showing the OC coast in the background.