is the first time that happening has ever been caught on camera.
The 27-year-old wildlife photographer and marine biologist had taken a boat of whale watchers
out on the water in Monterey Bay, California, on 22 July when the incident happened.
“It wasn’t a huge group, only three humpback whales and about two hundred sea lions.”
The animals were feeding on a school of anchovies at the water’s surface when the whale
ended up with something a little larger in its mouth than it probably expected.
“I had about a split second while the whale was coming up to really comprehend that
the sea lion was on top of the whale before shooting the rest of the sequence.”
Chase is “more than 100% confident” the sea lion swam away just fine after it ended up in the whale’s mouth.
Humpback whales don’t have teeth, only baleen plates with bristles inside their mouths.
They are filter feeders and the bristles filter food from water – and things like sea lions that don’t belong in there.
A whale will usually take less than five seconds lunge-feeding, Chase says, but in this
instance sunk slowly over 15 seconds with its mouth open, giving the sea lion ample time to swim away.
“The whale never actually closed its jaws around the sea lion, so it shouldn’t have been harmed.”