When a whale appeared behind their boat, a party of whale watchers almost missed it because tourists were looking in the opposite direction.
The crew was photographed patiently waiting with cameras primed, but they almost missed the magnificent encounter by glancing in the opposite direction as the whale emerged a foot away from their boat.
Fortunately, tourists were able to return to their boats in time to watch the giant humpback whale before it vanished back into the depths of the water, generating joyous scenes.
Photos obtained from another ship show the stealthy whale raising its head out of the water as the gang faces forward, cameras aimed at the wide ocean ahead.
But, just as the creature was about to vanish into the sea, whale watchers discovered her at the last second, and a second snap shows their delight at their near encounter.
One woman aboard the boat is said to be celebrating by flinging her arms in the air, while other tourists sat with their mouths agape in disbelief and click their photos.
During a journey to the San Ignacio lagoon on the Baja California peninsula, Mexico, director and photographer Eric J Smith captured the near-missing scene of whale watchers.
‘She carefully and softly raised her head above the water to look around,’ said the 49-year-old from Los Angeles. I was in another panga a few dozen feet away and caught the moment just before everyone noticed how near she was.
‘When everyone turned around, she immediately sank beneath the water’s surface. Laughter erupted, both happy and hysterical.
‘Whale photography necessitates a great deal of luck, but it is critical that you be awake and prepared. Because there is so much waiting on a whale watching tour, it’s easy to become complacent. It appears like the instant you let down your guard, a spectacular breach occurred.’