Rare Photo of a Seal Riding a Humpback Whale Captured in Australia

A photographer captured a surprising photo of the duo off the coast of Eden.

ByABC News
September 18, 2015, 10:12 AM

— -- While photographing whales off the coast of Eden, Australia, a photographer captured a rare and surprising occurrence of a seal riding on the back of a humpback whale.

Robyn Malcolm, an Australian native, was out on a boat a few weeks ago off the coast of Eden, a coast in New South Wales that she said is particularly popular for marine life, taking pictures of whales feeding. Whale season there usually starts in September, but Malcolm said she was alerted by a friend that there was a lot of activity on the coast, including dolphins, birds and seals.

“All the animals were feeding in quite a frenzy and when they’re feeding they’re quite spectacular,” Malcolm told ABC News today. “Basically I had the camera on and was just clicking away madly because there was so much going on. I was just hoping that something would be in focus.”

In the midst of taking photos, Malcolm noticed strange activity out on the water, but “wasn’t quite sure what it was,” she said. It wasn’t until later on when she was going through her photos and deleting the bad ones that she realized she had captured an odd scene of a seal on top of a humpback whale, she said.

“My guess is that the whale lunged for food and when it came back up the seal just happened to be above it,” Malcolm said.

Although this particular instance is not one Malcolm sees every day, she is used to seeing seals along the coast all the time. They often hang out with people on kayaks and try to play, she said.

“They’re the clowns of the ocean. They’re a bit of show-offs,” Malcolm said of the seals she often encounters.

Malcolm admits that people have questioned the authenticity of the photo, but assures that it is real and has kept the photo on the memory card to prove it.