For the first time ever, a pod of humpback whales have been photographed underwater off of the coast of Britain.
These majestic creatures have started to visit the waters around the UK more and more in the last decade, but it is still incredibly rare to catch a glimpse of one – let alone two together!
Wildlife photographers Richard Shucksmith and Brydon Thomason first spotted the humpback whales two weeks before they took their incredible shots, and waited patiently until they had the right weather before trying to get close enough to take the photos.
They were lucky enough to eventually get a calm, sunny day – something that’s extremely rare in Scotland’s Shetland Islands during the winter. The glorious weather allowed them to get some truly amazing photos and footage of the humpback whales.
When it came to getting the shots, it was Richard who took on the frightening but thrilling challenge of getting into the water and up close and personal with the whales. These sea giants can grow up to 16m in length and weigh up to a whopping 36,000kg.
He says, ‘my heart was in my mouth as I realised this was going to be so close, and with just an arm’s length from me they turned, looked at me and gently glided past. I was astounded and so happy to have such a close encounter, the gentle giants of the sea.’
Sadly, years ago humpback whales were hunted for their oil and meat, so much so that the species nearly became instinct. Experts are hoping that the recent increase on whale sightings around the UK coastline means that their numbers are now increasing.
As for Richard and Brydon, they were clearly delighted by their close encounter with the whales – watch the video above to see just how close they got to these magnificent mammals.