Two kayakers experienced a whale encounter that nearly turned dangerous.
Two men were in for an up close and personal encounter when they paddled their kayaks within feet of a large southern right whale off the coast of Hillarys, a suburb of Perth in Australia.
In a stunning video captured by a drone above the water, the men are seen in two separate kayaks, floating next to the whale and her young calf as the mammals swim at the surface. While the scene seems peaceful at first, one kayaker soon gets too close to the mother’s giant tail. With one flip of its heavy fluke, the tail appears to hit his small pink boat before the whale swims away, allowing the kayaker to narrowly avoid a more dangerous fate.
According to Australian news outlet Perth Now, the men put their lives at risk by approaching the whales at such a close distance. A tail slap from a whale of this size could easily kill a human, especially if the mother felt she needed to protect her calf.
Surfer Michael McCormick, who spotted the kayakers and decided to capture the interaction with his drone, told Perth Now that he didn’t think the men should be so close to the whale. Local authorities agreed.
“The police came through with their boat and they got their loudspeaker out and told them to go away,” McCormick said. “The rules are stay 100m from whales. That’s what the police were saying over loud speaker.”
Perth Now also reported that the whales had been spotted many times by locals in Perth over the last few weeks, prompting State government marine park coordinator Mel Evans to issue a statement about their safety.
“The mother and calf appear to be in excellent physical condition and are displaying normal behaviours like spy hopping, logging and waving,” her statement said. “Viewing whales is best done from the higher vantage points on the mainland, rather than from vessels which are required to remain a safe distance of at least 100m from the animal.”
While the kayakers were lucky to get away without injury this time, it seems clear that the safety of both the humans and animals would be better protected without such close encounters.
Still dying to get some rare one-on-one time with a whale? Consider an organized whale watching tour guided by experts who can keep you and the mammals safe.