A Photo Appreciation of Whales – The Atlantic

Today, the 200th birthday of the author Herman Melville, most famous for his book Moby Dick, seems like an appropriate moment to compile a collection of images of whales from around the world. Melville’s knowledge and appreciation of these magnificent animals, along with his storytelling skills, continue to make Moby Dick a compelling read. The real-world beauty of whales in their natural habitat makes them magnificent creatures—protected now by ongoing conservation efforts, yet still threatened.
A sperm whale sleeps, positioned vertically, as it is approached by a freediver in the Indian Ocean near Mauritius, on November 16, 2011.
A beluga whale swims among others near Somerset Island, in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, in Canada’s Nunavut territory.
An orca swims near a herring bait ball.
Two humpback whale calves migrating north to warmer waters breach together along the Wild Coast of South Africa.
A diver swims near a huge blue whale in the Indian Ocean near Sri Lanka on April 20, 2014.
A young sperm whale nurses while swimming alongside its mother in the open water near Mauritius on November 20, 2011.
An orca swims near Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands), in British Columbia, Canada.
An aerial view of humpback whales feeding in Southeast Alaska’s Frederick Sound, after bubble-netting herring into a tight column.
Blue whales feed, surrounded by seabirds.
An orca swims through Antarctica’s Lemaire Channel.
A curious beluga swims toward the photographer in the Canadian Arctic.
An orca stalks newborn sea lions on a Patagonian beach.
A Bryde’s whale swims near the surface of the Indian Ocean near Sri Lanka.
A humpback whale spy-hops off Rockaway Peninsula, with the Empire State Building in the background, in the Queens borough of New York City, on September 23, 2013.
A humpback whale splashes back to the water after leaping, as seen from above the blue water off the Gold Coast near Queensland, Australia.
A southern right whale calf interacts with a sea lion off Argentina’s Valdes Peninsula.
An orca breaches in view of Mount Baker, some 60 miles distant, in the Salish Sea near the San Juan Islands in Washington State on July 31, 2015.
A curious young gray whale surfaces in waters off Baja California, Mexico, in March 2017.
A female humpback whale with two calves swims below a diver off the Baja coast of Mexico.
A humpback whale raises its tail as it dives into the Gerlache Strait in Antarctica on February 28, 2019.
Beluga whales swim in the Chukchi Sea near Alaska in this July 1, 2008, photo from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Mammal Laboratory.
A southern right whale breaches among waves near Hermanus, South Africa, in August 2016.
A group of sperm whales sleeps, suspended vertically in mid-ocean. This gathering was photographed in the Indian Ocean, near Mauritius, on November 16, 2011.
A humpback whale calf, swimming in the Indian Ocean.
A humpback whale slaps its tail at sunset in northern Norway, in a fjord just outside the town of Andenes.
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