Capture at the right time and taking the most extraordinary picture of your career: it is certainly not given to everyone, but it did happen to the American nature photographer Chase Dekker. He saw a whale accidentally swallow a sea lion off the coast of California. But how did this thriller end? The photographer answers the question that burns on everyone’s lips.
Chase Dekker, the nature photographer, who is also a marine biologist, saw the unlikely spectacle during a whale expedition on July 22 in the Monterey Bay area. Three humpback whales were feeding on schools of anchovies. At that time, an estimated 200 sea lions were also swimming in the area. And then an ‘accident’ happened quickly.
And just that natural spectacle took place in front of the 27-year-old photographer. Normally humpbacks feed on krill and small fish, but this time a whale swallowed a prey much larger than expected. He suddenly had a sea lion in his mouth and Dekker reacted at lightning speed. “I only had a fraction of a second to grasp this special moment. You really only get to see this once in your life,” says the elated biologist. “I still can’t believe it.”
Then, of course, everyone naturally wonders what happened to the unfortunate sea lion? The American is “100 percent” certain that the animal has escaped from the whale’s mouth.
Humpbacks have no teeth, explains the marine biologist. And after the catch, this specimen plunged extremely slowly under the water with an open mouth. In other words, the sea lion had ample time to get out. “The humpback whale never clung its jaws around the prey, leaving the sea lion unharmed from this adventure.”
A happy ending for all protagonists.
Mother Nature at her best.