By Crystal Chung @crystalkchung
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Videographer / director: Craig Parry
Producer: Crystal Chung, Nick Johnson
Editor: Sonia Estal, Ian Phillips
The incredible once-in-a-lifetime encounter was captured on camera by professional nature photographer Craig Parry off the coast of Byron Bay, Australia.
Craig was heading home after an unfruitful afternoon of whale-watching with his dad when they ran into the marine giants.
The whales were in playful mood, circling the small boat for around 90 minutes and ‘spyhopping’ - peeking their head out of the water to get a closer look at their surroundings.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing - during the course of their revels, one of the whales collided with the front of the boat, lifting it up in the water.
Craig said: “During the whale migration season I try to go out as often as I can to photograph the whales.
"This one day it was a particularly quiet for whale sightings, my father and I decided to finish up for the day and we were on our way back to land when we saw the two whales.
“They were by the far the most interactive whales that I have ever encountered. We spent an hour and a half with them.
One whale was far more curious than the other and during their time with us one of their tails actually hit the boat, leaving behind barnacles.”
The 37-year-old photographer was able to capture the incredible close-up shots of the whales using a drone to take aerial views of the magnificent sea mammals.
And while Craig, who teaches underwater photography lessons, is used to coming in close contact with large sea mammals, his father was more spooked by the encounter.
He said: “I am already conditioned to whale behaviour, they are extremely self aware and also very gentle animals, it is very rare to see a whale show aggressive behaviour, unless you go close to their calves.
“I never felt any fear at all because I have spent a lot of time around these animals as I often swim with whales during my underwater photography lessons but my dad was really scared.
“At the time when they came up, I was not afraid at all but then one of the whales hit the boat, it actually lifted the front of the boat and that freaked me out.
"It was such a unique situation, it didn’t feel real at the start.”
Humpback whales pass through Byron Bay on their way to Antarctica during their annual migration season.
The pair were very lucky to witness the rare behaviour as whales are known to rarely stop during their travels.
Craig added: “This really was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as a lot of the whales that travel past Byron Bay don’t tend to give a lot of interaction as they are half way to Antarctica so they are very hungry and almost home.
“This was definitely a pinnacle of my experience with whales, to experience the interaction was mind blowing - when they came out of the water, you could actually smell the fish off their breath.”