Twenty yards from the fishing boat, a young humpback breached the surface and began to "perform." What a delight to watch Fracture, so named because he had a fracture line across his tale. He dived, slapped the surface of the Atlantic Ocean with his flipper, dived and resurfaced, breached again and again.
It was breathtaking, I was awe-struck. It felt akin to spiritual experience... I wrote all about it. Three other excursion boats came into the area, cut their motors, and passengers observed quietly and filmed for twenty minutes.
Then Fracture disappeared. We waited and waited as our captain detailed whale behavior and shared how they had been tracking this juvenile for some time. Fifteen minutes later, all boats started their engines and we began to idle away, set to sail. Then...
Fracture resurfaced so close to our boat we all laughed, especially when he opened his mouth wide, burped, and permeated the air with a cloud of fish breath. Undersea dining right under our boat.
Wouldn't you know it?! When I saw my article in print, I was disappointed to discover the editor had omitted the two sentences above. My punch line. I think it was due to column length, but maybe he didn't feel it was relevant to the story. Too late.
Lesson learned: don't hesitate to ask an editor if you can examine your work for editorial changes before it is published. Keep in mind, you can negotiate, but the editor does have the final say.