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Action Photography Contest Winners: Round II
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RUNNER-UP: Paddling Washington's San Juans
Presenting the second round of our Action Photography Contest, judged by
National Geographic photographer Bill Hatcher.
Photo: Kayaking with a whale
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Your Story: 
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I took this photo last summer in Washington's San Juan Islands during my first kayaking trip. We'd been on the water for about an hour when our guide discovered that a gray whale was feeding just a paddle stroke away.  We paddled to the area and, sure enough, this gigantic creature was diving and feeding right in front of us. For 30 minutes we watched the whale cruise back and forth in the perfectly still water. Hearing the magnificent creature breath at the water's surface and then dive down again was unforgettable. 
—David Clark, 53
Police Detective
Phoenix, Arizona

Judge's Remarks:
This is a scene that I have encountered in photos before, and yet it's always thrilling to witness the mixing of man and nature. Capturing both the breaching whale and the sea kayaker in the same frame is not easy. This photo would hold more interest for me if the kayaker were not so prominent in the frame. His presence makes the whale look less imposing than it really is. Still, this photo captures a wonderful moment.
—Bill Hatcher, photographer and author of the National Geographic Photography Field Guide: Action & Adventure

DIY: Anacortes, Washington, is located about 90 miles (145 kilometers) north of Seattle. It is the gateway to the San Juan Islands, the premier kayaking destination to see whales and other sea life. Anacortes Kayak Tours ( is operated by Erik and Megan Schorr. 

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