HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT MANUEL ACOSTA SNAPS A ONCE IN A LIFE TIME SHOT OF A BREACHING GRAY WHALE
On any given day, you might casually look out over the shores of Crystal Cove to see the Western Pride cruising through the open water. This is a well-known fishing boat, but it is also an open ocean laboratory that hosts CCA’s Marine Protected Area Citizen Science Cruise, operated in partnership with Newport Landing. On the morning of Feb. 17, cruise participant Manuel Acosta was at the right place at the right time to witness a rare aquatic event.
Manuel was on board as part of an AP Biology class from Magnolia High School when, within minutes of the boat leaving the harbor, a juvenile gray whale rose up out of the water and leapt into the air. Every camera on board turned on, ready for the possibility of a second appearance.
For Manuel, capturing the moment became equal parts luck and determination. “I had missed the first time it breached. …I waited patiently and suddenly I saw the water get lifted and heard everyone in awe,” Manuel says. “I snapped many pictures with everyone bumping into me, but was glad to see one picture come out sharp.”
For some, the cruise might be a chance to ride on a boat or simply a day off from school; but for Manuel, the cruise signified both an enriching experience and hope for the future. His experience epitomizes the goals set out by CCA and Newport Landing: to educate local high-school students on the importance of a healthy ocean in hopes of empowering them to start making a difference in their own communities.
“It was certainly an eye-opening experience, learning about the importance of our ocean and how our actions can help preserve it,” Manuel says. “Knowing that the data we collected was going to make a difference and help scientists improve the quality of our ocean was great to hear.”