REDONDO BEACH, Calif., Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Professional photographer Eric Smith recently spent an afternoon snapping photos of a female humpback whale and her calf as they cruised through the waters off the coast of Redondo Beach, Calif. Another man played on his smartphone.
The worlds of those two men collided this week, as Smith shared an Instagram photo of the technology-absorbed boater -- eyes glued to his smartphone -- missing the stunning wildlife just a few feet away.
In the caption of the photo, which has received more than 440 likes, Smith wrote: "A sign of the times. Hey dude! Stop texting. There's an enormous humpback whale two feet from your boat!"
"A mom was out there with her calf, flapping, breaching, jumping, mouths eating fish -- it was fantastic," Smith told CBS News. The moment was lost on the smartphone-wielding man, who Smith said "never moved from his phone."
Smith acknowledged having found himself entranced by the glow of his phone's screen now and again. "But this is really indicative that we have some serious issues to work through," he told CBS.
More than 80 percent of adults in the United States now have a smartphone. And a recent survey in the United Kingdom found that 13 percent of respondents admitted they couldn't go more than an hour (not counting sleeping) without checking their mobile device.
"You think life is better on your phone, but we're missing what's happening around us," Smith told ABC.
In addition to distracting users from once-in-a-lifetime wildlife events, smartphones have also been implicated in the poor sleep habits of both teens and adults. And one recent study even fingered the devices (and tablets) as an impediment to the social-emotional development of young children.