Jeromie Hunter, a pilot with Paramount Air Services, took an incredible photo while flying over the beach in Cape May County.

I don't know if it's just anecdotal, but I feel like we're seeing a lot more whale stories lately. A lifeguard in Long Branch was nearly knocked off his paddleboard by a humpback whale; one was spotted very close to the beach in Manasquan; a group of fishermen were just inches away! The popular theory is that with less people in the water due to pandemic restrictions, animals were coming back to places that they had previously fled. Maybe the food sources are coming closer to shore, so the predators are following them. Maybe it's just that more people have their phones with cameras on them all the time, and everyone has a YouTube channel or an Instagram page or a TikTok account to share their pictures and videos.

According to Barbara Tomalino, owner of Paramount Air Services, Hunter took the picture about 50 yards off Stone Harbor’s 96th Street beach. Hunter is from Seattle, and while I thought whales were common in the Pacific Northwest, he told Tomalino he had never seen something like this before.

I keep telling myself I need to get a drone so I can try to get pictures and videos like this...but I never do. Honestly, the bigger barrier is having the time to head to the beach and just fly a drone around hoping I get lucky enough to see a whale or dolphins. Maybe this will finally be the summer that the Varacchi-cam takes to the skies so I can enjoy nature from overhead.

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