"Southern right whales are annual visitors to our shores, traveling north from their summer feeding grounds in the southern Atlantic Ocean. Once nearly hunted to extinction but now protected, these animals are increasing in numbers at a rate of about 8 percent per year. This is a real environmental success story. These 'gentle giants' do not always live up to their reputation, however. When filming whales in South African waters, strict conditions apply; it is not permitted to separate mother and calf. However, as with most youngsters, whale calves are very inquisitive animals. When this picture was taken, a calf had left its mother and was in the process of swimming directly at me with its head out of the water, thrashing from side to side. Those characteristic hard white callosities got too close for comfort."Charles Maxwell
Charles Maxwell is an underwater cinematographer based in Cape Town, South Africa. A keen diver and lover of the marine environment for 35 years, Maxwell has made documentaries for the National Geographic Society and the BBC. He runs his own business, Underwater Video Services.
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Image by Charles Maxwell