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Diver takes stunning photographs of a close encounter with one of the world's most little-known species of whale

Mirror logo Mirror 21-12-2016

These stunning photographs captured the moment a diver got up close and personal with one of the sea's biggest creatures.

The marvellous mammal in the pictures is a Bryde’s whale, one of the most world's most little-known species of whale .

The snapper, from wildlife photography agency SeaPics, risked getting gobbled up by the huge and hungry monster whale as he took the incredible snaps.

Credits: SeaPics/Exclusivepix Media © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: SeaPics/Exclusivepix Media

SeaPics/Exclusivepix Media

Credits: SeaPics/Exclusivepix Media © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: SeaPics/Exclusivepix Media

SeaPics/Exclusivepix Media

Bryde's are the only large whale to spend their time entirely in tropical or sub-tropical waters near the equator, and these breath-taking images were taken in the Pacific Ocean , off the coast of Mexico.

In one of the amazing snaps, a diver is pictured floating just above the giant sea creature, while in another the whale is seen swimming below a large shoal of fish.

The huge animals can grow up to 16.5 metres in length, and can weight up to 40,000kg, and they filter out plankton, crustaceans, and small fish using their large baleen plates.

The Bryde's whale, which is pronounced "broo-dess", was named after Johan Bryde, a man who helped to build the first whaling factory in Durban, South Africa in 1909.

Credits: SeaPics/Exclusivepix Media © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: SeaPics/Exclusivepix Media

SeaPics/Exclusivepix Media

Credits: SeaPics/Exclusivepix Media © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: SeaPics/Exclusivepix Media

SeaPics/Exclusivepix Media

Close encounters with the beautiful beasts are incredibly rare, as those who live in the Gulf of Mexico are on the brink of extinction.

Earlier this month, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) proposed for the Gulf of Mexico Bryde's whale to be listed as an "endangered species" under the Endangered Species Act, saying "we believe that the species faces a high risk of extinction."

Credits: SeaPics/Exclusivepix Media © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: SeaPics/Exclusivepix Media

SeaPics/Exclusivepix Media

The whales are under threat from collisions with ships, deafening ocean noise from oil and gas activity, and pollution from a wide range of sources.

They are also hunted by Japanese whaling ships in the North Pacific, according to charity Whale and Dolphin Conservation.

A lack of research into the whales means scientists still know relatively little about them. They are not even sure whether the Bryde's is a single species, or if the name encompasses two or three types of baleen whale.

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