Astonishing pictures show how a Devon kayaker got up close and personal with a humpback whale feeding frenzy
When your in a tiny kayak and a 40 ton giant of the deep decides hes a bit peckish, the sensible option is to scarper as fast as your paddle can carry you.
But wildlife photographer Duncan Murrell does the opposite. To capture images of humpback whales feeding and surging through the surf off Alaska, he often ventures within 15ft of the fearsome creatures.
The humpbacks, which can grow to more than 50ft, spend most of their time under water and can dive for up to 30 minutes, so being in the right place at the right time to see them requires skill and luck.
Lunging out of the water this humpback takes part in a feeding frenzy off the U.S. coast
Duncan pauses in his kayak as he prepares to photograph the whales. Some days he has to paddle for 30 miles to keep up with them to get the images he wants
Duncan in his kayak in the Phillippines
Mr Murrell, 56, from Paignton, Devon, anticipates where they will surface by watching out for bubbles a sign that a group of humpbacks are working together to capture a shoal of herring.
One whale swims in a circle while blowing bubbles under the fish. When the bubbles rise, the herring form into a tight ball in the centre of the circle.
Other whales grunt and scream to scare the herring to the surface and in a wall of spray they all then rise with their huge mouths open to enjoy their feast. On average, one humpback eats around 5,000lb of plankton krill and fish a day.
When the feeding group explodes into view I have only a split second to decide whether I should either have my camera in my hands or my paddle to take evasive action, said Mr Murrell. Their habit of leaping out of the water without warning
Three humpback whales blast air and water through their blowholes in Tenakee Inlet South East Alaska