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Photographer captures close encounter between whale and paddleboarder in Plymouth

Craig Picariello of Carver photographed an exciting moment when a whale breached near a paddleboarder in Plymouth on Sunday morning.Craig Picariello

Craig Picariello headed with his camera to Manomet Point in Plymouth Sunday morning to capture the sunrise and, with a little luck, pictures of a whale or two.

Luck was on his side.

Armed with his Canon EOS 77D, Picariello was looking at the water when the fish “started jumping a little bit.”

“Then all of a sudden a swirl in the water,” he recalled Monday. It was a sure sign a whale would soon be coming up for air, he thought.

Sure enough, the huge creature then breached the water in majestic fashion, not far from an admiring paddleboarder. Picariello was there to catch the picture-perfect moment.


Craig Picariello, 53, of Carver photographed a whale breaching the surface of the water near a paddleboarder in Plymouth on Sunday morning. Craig Picariello

“It was crazy,” Picariello said. “The first time I missed it.” But when it happened again, he was ready. Turns out, there were three whales in the area.

Picariello later talked to the paddleboarder he photographed, and it turned out to be someone he knows: a man named Michael Manfredi.

Manfredi, 57, lives in Plymouth and often paddleboards in that area. Like the photographer on shore, he knew a whale was lurking beneath the surface because the water looked like it was boiling and fish were coming to the surface.

“I was probably about 25 feet away,” Manfredi said in a phone interview. “All of a sudden he came right up out of the water. It was just really insane.”

Manfredi said he wasn’t scared because he used to be a diver and is comfortable being around whales, sharks, and other sea life.

“Being on the surface is a whole different experience,” Manfredi said. “When you’re underwater you can see how big they are. On the surface it’s a little different because they can surprise you.”

Manfredi said he’s a big fan of Whale and Dolphin Conservation, a group in Plymouth, and enjoys going to Manomet Point to look for whales and other sea life.


“You never know what’s going to pop up,” he said.

Picariello said he didn’t realize how good a shot he had taken of Manfredi and the whale until he got home and took a closer look at the photos on his computer.

“I happened to get the right picture at the right time,” he said. “When I got home and put them on the computer, I was like ‘Wow!’”

Craig Picariello photographed this whale breaching the surface of the water at Manomet Point Sunday morning.Craig Picariello
Craig Picariello took this shot of whale's tail in the water at Manomet Point Sunday morning.Craig Picariello

Emily Sweeney can be reached at Follow her @emilysweeney and on Instagram @emilysweeney22.