Sperm whale tail

Photographing a sperm whale tail is something you hope for when sailing out. When we arrived that morning in Kaikoura, on the New Zealand South Island, a storm warning was in effect. Kind of a bummer, but I decided to go anyway. Not too many people on the boat: the bad weather kept most people away.
I’m however eternal grateful I was on this trip, as we encountered a sperm whale after an hour or so on the sea. I was about to give up on what to expect from this trip when this guy (girl?) showed up. Being well on edge after all the waiting, time to get out on the deck and see what was possible.

Sperm whale!

When whale watching and taking pictures of whales, it’s important to understand how they behave. Having a good understanding of species, behavior and so on. Wild Whales has a nice overview (that you can find there as a pdf as well) with the most important species, and the actions you can expect. To get a sperm whale tail like this, you must hope that after the whale has taken enough oxygen, it will “fluke” into the deep again. And when it does, it’ll show its nice tail to you!


When we knew it was about to dive again, I took this shot. The rising sun was just left of me, making the sky a little orange, and reflecting nicely in the waterdrops that come of its tail. It’s one of my favorite pictures of the trip in New Zealand. Before I went to Antarctica and saw tons of whales there, this was a unique experience. It was only the second surfacing whale I’ve spotted in about 5 years. The previous one was when doing a whale watch tour in Boston, Massachusetts (USA).

This sperm whale greeted us on a morning, while I was on a boat east of New Zealand

This sperm whale greeted us on a morning, while I was on a boat east of New Zealand

Sperm Whale Tail - Whale Watch New Zealand