May 31, 2019

A drone over the coast of French Polynesia captured an encounter you might only see once in a lifetime if you are lucky. A pair of snorkelers were about to get up close and personal with a playful baby whale and its sleeping mother.

Australian photographer Eamon Porter spotted the group far above the deep-blue, south Pacific waters of the tropical former-French colony. We watch as the drone homes in on the rare moment.

Illustration – Wikimedia | Roderick Eime

From afar, looking like a pair of tiny shrimp, we spot two swimmers out snorkeling. They are observing a pair of humpback whales a short distance away. We see a massive, shadowy blob, the mother humpback, floating motionless, slowly drifting along with the current—she seems to be taking a nap by all appearances. Nearby, a restless calf playfully swims belly-up, flippers slapping the waves without a care.

It’s not long before the baby takes notice of the divers, though, and swims over to investigate and perhaps find a new playmate. That’s when something incredible happened: The calf’s white belly got right under one of the snorkelers, and for a brief moment, they seemed to connect before the baby jetted off, leaving the diver heaving in its wake. And before long, it was right back at mom’s side.

Although the moment was potentially dangerous—a calf’s tail fin would have had more than enough power to cause damage—it was magical, as short-lived as it was.

Drone photography is becoming ever more popular. With an eye in the sky, we are privy to seeing so much more, allowing spectators to share in those experiences. And now that Porter has shared his footage with the world, you can witness this magical encounter for yourself as well.