The beauty of baleen

Katanyou Wuttichaitanakorn's Image

Katanyou Wuttichaitanakorn (Thailand) is intrigued by the contrasting colours and textures of a Bryde's whale, surfacing close by.

Whale watching has become a popular activity in the Gulf of Thailand, focused on a population of Bryde's whales that are present all year round in the South China Sea.

Following government tourism guidelines, the tour boat Katanyou was travelling on turned off its engine when the whale appeared nearby. He had to steady his hands to capture this close-up composition as the boat rocked in the swell.

Bryde's whales have up to 370 pairs of grey-coloured plates of baleen growing inside their upper jaws. The plates are made of keratin, a protein that also forms human hair and nails, and are used to filter small prey from the ocean.

Sugandhi Gadadhar, wildlife filmmaker and judge said, 'I love how the youngster has gone off the beaten track to show a whale in a totally different composition, while capturing behaviour like filter feeding. And this, coming from a young photographer, gives me hope that they are not just seeing, but observing the very minute details, learning much along the way.'

Behind the lens

Katanyou Wuttichaitanakorn

Katanyou Wuttichaitanakorn


A keen naturalist and a photographer since he was 12, Katanyou mainly takes pictures of the wildlife around his home in Bangkok but also makes as many trips as he can to Thailand’s wildlife parks. Now aged 16, he plans to train as a zoologist and become a wildlife photographer.

Image details

  • Canon EOS 90D
  • Sigma 150–600mm f5–6.3 lens
  • 1/6400 sec at f6.3 (-1 e/v)  •   ISO 640
  • Upper Gulf of Thailand, Phetchaburi, Thailand
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