Moby Trick: 'Fire-breathing' whale creates spectacular optical illusion in the sunset sky
15:16 GMT, 6 December 2012
Like some dragon from the deep, a whale rises majestically to the surface and spouts a huge ball of fire from his blowhole.
Of course this stunning image is really nothing more than an optical illusion as sunlight is refracted through the jet of moist air creating a orange glow.
Amateur photographer Mark Turner spent
days watching the whales in Petersburg, Alaska, waiting for the moment
to get that perfect shot.
Smoke on the water: The humpback whale appears to spout a ball fire from its
blowhole as it rises to the surface off the coast of Alaska
American Mark, 55, who went on the whale watching trip with his 82-year-old dad, said: 'We had a professional photographer with us as a guide, and on the first day, he told us about the fire breathing whale phenomenon that happens when the sun is low in the sky and is backlighting the whale.
'I immediately decided it was going to be my goal to take a picture of that.
'We were getting ready to set anchor for
the evening and there were three whales swimming between our boat and a
beautiful Alaskan sunset. As they would spout water from their blow
holes, we could see the effect the sun had on the mist. The lower the
sun got on the horizon, the more brilliant the colours.
Tricks of shade: The stunning image is nothing more than an optical illusion as the sunlight is refracted by blast of moist air coming from the whale's blow hole
Light fantastic: A pair of Whales swimming against a beautiful low sun set in Petersburg, Alaska
Take a bow: The whale leaps out of the water after performing its trick
'We just got lucky that the light was perfect and the whales wanted to co-operate.
'My understanding is that the effect is created by the reflection or refraction of the sunlight, coming through the droplets of moisture, similar to what causes a rainbow.
'I've always enjoyed the outdoors and particularly wildlife shots – I took my first picture of a bear when I was seven years old and have been hooked ever since.'