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An adult Southern Right Whale, (Eubalaena australis) encounters a diver on the sandy sea bottom at a depth of 22-meters off the Auckland Islands, New Zealand (sub Antarctic islands). I traveled to the Auckland Islands in hopes of photographing a truly pristine population of Right Whales. I was working on a story about these animals and had spent the previous year photographing the beleagured North Atlantic Right Whales of which only about 350 remain and most of which are scarred from entanglements with fishing gear or from ship strikes. Many of these Southern Rights in the Auckland Islands had never seen humans before in the water and were highly curious. Swimming along the ocean bottom with a 14-meter long,  70-ton whale was the single most incredible animal encounter I have had.

Southern right whale and diver, photographed by Brian Skerry

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