A group of kayakers paddling around Monterey County's Moss Landing had a way-too-close-for-comfort encounter with a humpback whale Saturday, when the massive beast leaped out of the water and onto, well, them.
According to Sanctuary Cruises Captain Michael Sack, "a lot of different whales seem[ed] to be breaching and tail-lobbing more than normal" on Saturday, when he witnessed "one of the more dangerous situations that I’ve seen out here."
Sack says (and the video below bears this out) that "Here we were, minding our own business, checking out large quantities of humpback whales as they surrounded us in the Sanctuary...when all of a sudden, this massive full-size whale does a full 180-degree breach."
"The only problem," Sack says, "is that it landed on two kayakers on a tandem rig. Pretty serious situation...It was very scary to watch."
Sack says that after the whale slammed into the kayakers, "Their kayak filled with water, so other experienced kayakers pumped out the water and righted the boat for them. The boat looked like it sustained some damage. Kind of bent. Yikes."
That it was bent isn't surprising, as a full-grown Humpback can weigh around 40 tons, and grow to as long as 62 feet.
"I’m not sure," Sack says, if the kayakers "know how lucky they were. They kind of had to be in shock."
Sack says that experiences like these are "why I would never take anyone kayak whale watching. Most people don’t realize how dangerous kayaking with whales can be...one should realize that humpback whales are wild animals and totally unpredictable. It’s a very uncontrolled environment out there. Just like any wilderness experience."
"It’s just you and the whales. There’s no defense if a 40-ton humpback whale decides to come near you. Tail lob on you or breach on you. And that’s your problem if you put yourself in that position. Some people like it. You just never know."