By Stacey Leasca
August 23, 2018
Diver with Humpback Whales
Credit: Rodrigo Friscione/Getty Images

Selfies have a bad reputation as being narcissistic. But, without them, we’d miss out on pretty epic photos and videos like this one.

No, your eyes do not deceive you. That really is a massive humpback whale totally photobombing Adam Stern, the 28-year-old diver who filmed his encounter with the gigantic sea creature.

According to the video’s YouTube description, Stern was diving off the coast of Nuku'alofa, Tonga when the chance ocean meeting happened. He had just jumped into the water to cool off right before spotting the huge female whale swimming by.

Having a close encounter with a whale is exactly as thrilling as you’d imagine.

“I was floating above a 40-ton, 50-foot-long animal with a beating heart and a mind full of unfathomable instincts and impulses. The white edges of her pectoral fins and fluke glowed bright aqua. The rest of her was a massive charcoal shadow, suspended in space,” Travel + Leisure contributor Maggie Shipstead wrote about her own dive with whales in Tonga in 2016.

As Shipstead explained, Tonga keeps a close watch on its whales, and only allows a certain number of people into the water at once when they are present to protect them. Shipstead said her group was not permitted to scuba with the whales but rather was only allowed to snorkel for both their safety and the animals'.

“Just a few feet from me, the calf rolled onto his back, opening his knobby pectoral fins wide,” she wrote. “We made eye contact: a six-week-old, 18-foot-long marine mammal and a woman from California. What could he have made of me? His beauty thrilled me almost to the point of pain.”

To get an adventure like this you’ll have to travel somewhere along the whales' migration path. But, if you’re open to visiting with other marine life you could try traveling to these 12 places around the globe to go swimming with animals. We promise each one will leave you in awe.