Just off the shore of Freshwater Beach in Australia, underwater photographer Joel Coleman stumbled upon a magnificent scene fit for a film. A Southern Right whale was swimming only 100 meters from the shoreline, frolicking in relatively shallow waters and willing to be put on camera.

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Ten minutes earlier, Coleman had received a call from a friend who'd spotted the great fish and suggested Coleman come down to the water. The cameraman immediately put together his underwater photography kit, and moments later, he was approaching the whale, snapping an incredible series of photos that have since been seen around the world.

Coleman also assembled a video of the encounter.

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“I could not have imagined how popular those images proved to be,” Coleman writes on his blog. “I figured it was a once in a lifetime experience that I would never forget.”

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Coleman has an affinity for ocean photography, and says that he also came across another Southern Right whale off the coast of Sydney just six days later. This time around, the animal moved with greater urgency, but that's at least twice in a lifetime Coleman can count himself particularly fortunate!

You can see the video from his first encounter here:

All photos credited to: Joel Coleman, Saltmotion Gallery, saltmotion.com

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