Underwater photographer Karim Iliya was shooting in the ocean off the coast of the island of Vava’u last August when he had a magical (but scary) encounter with humpback whales. After jumping into the water, Iliya found himself in the midst of a battle between four humpback males that were fighting for one lone female.
“Swimming with humpback whales was the most magical, humbling, powerful experience of my life,” Iliya writes. In case you’re wondering, this is how the size of a human compares to the size of a full-grown humpback whale:
Here are some more of his up-close photographs:
Photographer Darren Jew also shot this photograph of Iliya photographing a juvenile humpback whale:
You can find more of Iliya’s work over on his website.
Image credits: Photographs by Karim Iliya and used with permission