If there was a masterclass in how to have your photo taken with a whale, Dawson Gage would be the one to teach it.
The 11-year-old was returning from a fishing trip with his family in Nootka Sound, about 75 kilometres northwest of Tofino, when they came across a humpback whale last month.
When the whale breached right behind him, Gage quickly turned and flashed a smile for the camera — casual as could be.
A video, taken by fishing guide Davis Rennie, has been shared tens of thousands of times since it was posted to the lodge's Facebook page on Sept. 19.
Brian Gage, Dawson's dad, said his son was over the moon after seeing the breach.
"He was pretty excited. He thought it was unbelievable and surreal," Gage said Wednesday. "Davis [Rennie] just had his camera going and we got lucky — really lucky, actually. [Dawson] really nailed it.
Gage, who owns the lodge, said they see whales all the time in the area in late August and through September — but rarely do they get to watch a full breach.
"We shut the engine off and just got to watch him come out of the water about three or four times and make his way toward the open ocean," he said. "It was pretty exhilarating.
"Dawson was pretty pumped."