Two tourist kayakers in the waters off a beach in California had a very close call with a humpback whale that breached under them, knocking them into the water.
The incident happened near Avila Beach, along the state’s central coastline, which is a popular spot to see the whales in their natural habitat.
Speaking to local media, Julie McSorley told FOX26 that she still had an “adrenaline rush” after the encounter.
Ms McSorley and her kayaking partner, Liz Cottriel, were off the coast of Avila Beach, watching the whales. The two thought they were at a safe distance, about 9m away, when they quickly learned they were not.
“I saw the big pool of fish, the big bait ball come up out of the water. I saw the whale come up,” Ms McSorley said. “I thought, ‘Oh no! It’s too close.’”
Video from onlookers shows the moment the huge mammal breaches the water’s surface and knocks over the kayak with the two inside.
The whale appears to nearly swallow the kayak as it breaches the surface of the water.Source:Supplied
Both women went into the water. Ms Cottriel said she thought the whale was going to land on her in the sea.
While video appears to show the whale had the kayak in its mouth, Ms McSorley claimed they were just overturned and thrown underwater.
After surfacing, the two were rescued by other paddleboarders and kayakers.
“We got back to the car. I was shaking my shirt and a bunch of fish came out of my shirt,” Ms Cottriel said.
Humpback whales are known to be active near the California coast year-round, and officials advise people to keep a football field’s distance between themselves and whales when possible to avoid situations such as a capsize.
Harbor officials told local media KSBY-TV both women are lucky to be alive.
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