Many North Atlantic humpbacks spend the spring, summer and autumn feeding in the nutrient-rich waters off Canada’s East Coast, specifically the Scotian Shelf and a region encompassed by the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Newfoundland and Labrador. But newborn calves are born without blubber and cannot withstand freezing temperatures, so the whales move to tropical waters each winter to breed and give birth. The most populous Atlantic calving grounds are near the Silver and Navidad Banks off the Dominican Republic, where these photos were captured.

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A calf frolics in the water with a snorkeler and learns to use its pectoral fins. (Photo: Mike Beedell)
A mother with a large calf swims through the shallows of a reef. (Photo: Mike Beedell)

A calf surfaces for air before returning to its mother below. (Photo: Mike Beedell)

A calf mother and escort observe snorkelers floating on the surface. (Photo: Mike Beedell)

A mother and calf rise to the surface and do a “fly by” of the photographer. (Photo: Mike Beedell)

A mother and calf keep close proximity as they move through warm Caribbean waters. (Photo: Mike Beedell)

Every humpback fluke is a unique signature with different colouration, scars and barnacle clusters. (Photo: Mike Beedell)

A calf plays over its mother while travelling. (Photo: Mike Beedell)

A young calf does a “fly by” to get a good look at the photographer. Beedell suspects the calf saw its reflection in the large optics of the underwater camera. (Photo: Mike Beedell)

In this rare photo two escorts vie for attention from a female while the calf surfaces for air. The white fluke of the other male can be seen bottom right. (Photo: Mike Beedell)

A calf comes eye to eye with Beedell and drops its pectorals so as not to hit him. (Photo: Mike Beedell)

Snorkelers float quietly on the surface while a Humpback cavorts nearby. (Photo: Mike Beedell)

Humpbacks are masters of flight underwater. Beedell describes their movements as breathtaking and elegant ballet maneuvers. (Photo: Mike Beedell)

An infant whale comes eye to eye with the photographer. Calves have intense curiosity and exhibit joyful play with elaborate rolls and wiggles of their one-ton bodies. (Photo: Mike Beedell)

An aerial view documents the calf as it ascends vertically to take a breath while the mother hovers in stasis 15 metres below. (Photo: Mike Beedell)

A mother rests 10 metres down in the silty water column and will rise to the surface on average every 30 minutes to breath. A young calf will breathe on average every 4 minutes. (Photo: Mike Beedell)

A large female breaches in frustration after being harassed by a male escort. The sound and impact of a 40 ton creature hitting the surface is intense. (Photo: Mike Beedell)

(Photo: Mike Beedell)

(Photo: Mike Beedell)

Beedell was hit by a huge wave seconds after the breach. (Photo: Mike Beedell)