Rare Video Captures 40-Ton Whale Joyfully Leaping Out of Water

These jaw-dropping images show the moment a humpback whale leaped majestically from the ocean, “waving” to a tourist boat before crashing with an almighty splash.

The photographs, taken off the coast of South Africa by marine tour guide Steven Benjamin, captured a sight rarely seen so close.

The 40-tonne humpback put on an incredible aerial display, soaring through the air just meters from a boat as shocked onlookers screamed.

Hello: A humpback whale darted out of the water off the east coast of South Africa, waving to astonished onlookers on a tour guide’s boat.

Having fun like a whale: The humpback whale had been swimming along the surface of the water, but disappeared for 20 minutes before suddenly jumping out of the ocean.

Flying fish: The stunning images were captured by Steven Benjamin, a marine tour guide who happened to have his camera with him at the crucial moment.

The 31-year-old, who was documenting the migration of more than 1,000 whales from the coast of South Africa to the warmer waters of Mozambique and Madagascar, watched as the whale floated in the ocean.

Benjamin thought the humpback’s show was over after 20 minutes hiding underwater, but it suddenly pulled its entire body out of the water, extending a fin to the spectators before falling back down, creating a huge splash.

The giant creature was clearly having fun as the marine tour guide watched from the safety of a boat off Port St John, in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province.

The spectacular display of strength and agility “impressed” Mr. Benjamin, who had never managed to get so close to a humpback before.

Mr Benjamin said: “It is common to quickly see huge whale breaches like this from a distance, but it is exceptionally rare for them to occur close to the boat and have the camera ready.

“I got this opportunity by pure luck. We were focused on this whale as it slapped its tail and half its head normally.

“He took a 20-minute break and then, without warning, committed a single massive infraction.”

The 31-year-old amateur photographer was documenting the migration of more than 1,000 whales from the coast of South Africa to the warmer waters of Mozambique and Madagascar when the humpback appeared.

Ditching: The entire ship ‘burst into screams’ as the whale crashed, creating a huge splash, a stunned Mr Benjamin said.

Close Encounter: Humpback whales are known for their acrobatics, but they don’t typically put on such displays when they are so close to ships.

And he added: “I was stunned. He had never seen a gap as big, frontal and high as that. The entire ship erupted in screams when she landed.

Mr Benjamin, from Cape Town, started photographing marine life just six years ago.

The amateur snapper won his camera in a local photography contest, allowing him to capture bigger and better shots.

He added: “People can’t believe it’s a real image, everyone always looks twice and is impressed.”

These acrobatic animals can grow up to 50 feet long and are reputed to fling themselves out of the water despite weighing up to 40 tons.

Humpback whales were hunted nearly to extinction during the 1960s, but a ban has allowed their global population to reach approximately 80,000.

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