Humpback whale 'swallows' sea lion in incredible picture

Last updated at 11:09
whale-swallows-sea-lion.Chase Dekker
This is the once-in-a-lifetime moment that photographer Chase Dekker caught on camera

Wildlife photographer Chase Dekker has caught the most incredible moment on camera - check it out above!

His photograph shows a humpback whale 'swallowing' a sea lion in Monterey Bay in California, US.

Well, the whale wasn't really swallowing it - it wasn't even trying to eat the sea lion!

Those who witnessed this unbelievable moment said they believe the sea lion hopped out and got away safely. In fact, Chase said he is "more than 100% confident" that the sea lion swam away just fine.

That's because this moment all happened by accident.

Chase told National Geographic: "The whales dive down, and the sea lions generally [move in] shortly after. When the sea lions pop back up, the whales are typically 10 to 30 seconds behind them."

But that didn't happen here. The two animals were both feeding on a school of anchovies near the water's surface, when the sea lion failed to move out the way fast enough when the whale came along - and so it ended up in the whale's mouth!

Despite their size (it's thought this whale was about 50-feet long), humpback whales don't have any teeth and only eat tiny fish, krill or plankton, which they trap in the bristles in their mouth.

chase-dekker.Chase Dekker
Chase says he believe his photo is the first to ever capture a sea lion in a whale's mouth like this

Chase spoke to BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat and said: "We were watching them feed for a long time and then eventually the event - as I call it the once-in-a-lifetime event - happened, and I still can't believe it," he said.

"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."

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