In the playground of giants: Paddle-surfer captured risking life and limb to enjoy close view of a 40-ton acrobatic whale

By Daily Mail Reporter

Photographer Michael Poliza captures his friend Axel Ohm edging closer and closer to the southern white whale off Hermanus

This is the moment stand-up paddle-surfer Axel Ohm decided to grab a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with one of the world's mightiest beasts.

Fortunately, the southern right whale also happens to be quite playful, as German photographer Michael Poliza was relieved to discover as he captured his friend in this extraordinary confrontation in calm waters just a few hundred yards off South Africa's Western Cape.

Axel enjoyed unsurpassed views of the breaching whale as he inched closer and closer in Walker Bay, near Grootbos Nature Reserve.

Axel Ohm closes in on the whale as it continues the dramatic display of acrobatics

Poliza explains: 'This shot was almost intentional. We were near Hermanus and saw a few southern right whales playing and frolicking near the shore. Axel and I looked at each other and he decided to jump on his board and give it a try.

'I only had a 100-400mm lens with me, so chances of getting a very close shot were minimal. But in any case, one whale happily cooperated and breached about five times just in front of Axel. The whale was basically checking him out.'

A southern white whale crashes, mid-breach, into a sailboat in waters off Cape Town

Southern right whales, which normally weigh in at 40 tons, were hunted to near extinction when the whaling industry was at its height, but today people watch these acrobatic animals purely for pleasure.

It was a southern white whale that was captured on film in July crashing, mid-breach, into a sailboat in waters off Cape Town.

source: dailymail