Watch CBS News

Viral Photo Shows Man So Distracted By Cellphone That He Misses Massive Whales Just Feet Away

REDONDO BEACH ( — An Instagram photo of an unidentified man on a boat distracted by his phone is going viral because of what he fails to notice just feet from him.

He never looked up when a massive humpback whale and her calf surfaced near his boat, a mile off the coast of Redondo Beach.

Southland photographer Eric Smith was in another boat snapping photos of the two whales when he caught the moment.

"It was just magnificent," said Smith, who later noticed the man in the background. "Through the course of five or six shots, he never moved. And the whale was so close to the boat, I was like, you must put the phone down. I can't believe you didn't look at the whale."

So, Smith then got on his cellphone to post the picture on Instagram for his friends, where it quickly spread and created a "back-splash."

Many people have commented that the snapshot captures just how much you can miss when your nose is buried in your phone.

"This has just apparently touched a nerve. It's been around the world in a day, so it's been quite a remarkable experience," Smith said.

The photographer acknowledges that the man may have been working on something important but that the image represents more than the subject: "This is not about one guy on a boat. The photograph is not about that; it's a commentary on society today."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.