The Guide to
Virginia Beach, VA

His pictures captured the whale bursting out of the water within arm’s reach of Bell. The shots even caught a fish in mid-air, escaping certain death in the whale’s mouth.
Bell, a 55-year-old Chesapeake salesman, had been visiting Sandbridge for 50 years, but he’d never seen a whale there until Friday, when he could have reached out and touched one. “I must have a strong heart, otherwise I would have had a heart attack,” he said.  After the whale dived back below, Bell began paddling furiously. “I was scared to death,” he said. “I just wanted to get out of his range.”  

Bell said it happened so fast, he couldn’t have taken a picture himself even if he had a camera. He said he might not have believed it if it weren’t for DeVan’s timing.

Later, DeVan sent his daughter to the beach to hail Bell. The kayaker accepted an invitation to the cottage to see the pictures, which DeVan had already uploaded to his laptop.   Bell “was a little shook up,” DeVan said. “He almost couldn’t bear to look at it.”

The whale emerges again.
Bell said he had spotted something coming out of the water earlier during his paddle, but he didn’t think it was a whale because he’d never seen one in the area.
Officials at the Virginia Marine Science Museum said it’s likely the photos capture a small humpback whale “lunge feeding” beneath a school of fish. While such whales are unusual in these waters at this time of year, it’s not unheard of.

DeVan said he had never seen anything like it since he began visiting Sandbridge in 1987 . He said he plans to turn the picture into posters, which he might hang in two Sandbridge restaurants. He also sent Bell a copy.

Bell, at right, is shown with John DeVan, who captured the images with his digital camera. Both men saw the whale in the Sandbridge area of Virginia Beach. 

REPRINTS of these exciting whale photos (in various sizes) are available with a donation made to the Sandbridge Community Chapel.  For more information, contact John DeVan at
Thank you John for submitting these fabulous photos!