A large sardine supper: Giant whale caught on camera swallowing a whole shoal of fish

A whale prepares to clamp its jaws around a shoal of sardines in this remarkable underwater image.

Underwater photographer Doug Perrine travelled to Mexico”s Baja Peninsula to photograph the magnificent 50-foot-long Bryde”s whale.

Scientists know so little about them that the numbers, range in the world”s oceans and whether this species of whale is in danger of being wiped out are not understood.

Feeding time: No escape for dozens of sardines as they are swallowed up by a Bryde whale off Baja, California

Feeding time: No escape for dozens of sardines as they are swallowed up by a Bryde whale off Baja, California

Bryde”s whales are a type of baleen whale that feed on small fish and krill.

Surrounded by hungry marlins and sea lions, Doug and his fellow diver, Brandon Cole, found themselves in the middle of a feeding frenzy, which allowed them to witness, and get extraordinarily close to, this act of nature.

“The whales would just appear out of nowhere and blindsided us,” said Doug.

“They came in so fast that they seemed to just appear out of nowhere right next to us – it was very unnerving.”

A whale of a time: The Bryde

Seafood meal: The whale clamps its jaws round some fish in this dramatic image caught by brave underwater photographer Doug Perrine

Seafood meal: The whale clamps its jaws round some fish in this dramatic image caught by brave underwater photographer Doug Perrine

“The marlin were a little scary too – they would use their bills to try to whack the sardines that would hide behind our necks, under our arms, and between our legs.

“When the whale hit my rubber fins, I just tumbled down its side. “It sped past with its throat pleats expanding to take in a swimming pool sized gulp of sardines and sea water.”

“As the whale pushed the water out of its mouth the air was forced out with the water. This produced jets of white bubbles that make the whales look like fire-breathing dragons.”

Caught on camera: The photographer looks up at the Bryde

Scientists have been left scratching their heads because of uncertainty over exactly what classifies a whale as a Bryde”s whale.

They are related to the humpback whale and blue whale, and Bryde”s whales are often mistaken for other types of whale. They live in the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Mealy good: Bryde

Predator: The Bryde

Up close: A Bryde

Lunch: Throat pleats of a Bryde