Reaching sizes of up to 80 feet long and 150 tons, whales are some of the oceans' most varied and majestic creatures -- and they're also some of its most endangered: Of the 11 species of great whales, at least nine have been severely impacted by years of whaling, according to Sea World.
But while whales can be aggressive at times, they are more often gentle, curious creatures -- and likely to check out foreign objects in the water, including boats and photographers.
This massive right whale
came up to wildlife photographer Brian Skerry with "great curiosity, but no aggression," he told The Daily Mail
, when he was working underwater off the Auckland Islands.
Fully-grown right whales are around 55 feet long and weigh nearly 70 tons, and are usually black with patches of rough skin known as callosities on their head.
Though endangered right whales live all over the world, scientists believe there are no more than 350 of them left in the North Atlantic, 100 in the North Pacific, and a few thousand in the Southern Hemisphere.
Photo via The Daily Mail