California – A pair of kayakers almost died on California’s Central Coast after a 40-ton humpback whale launched out of the sea and landed on their boat.
On Saturday morning, Tom Mustill and Charlotte Kinloch, both from London, were among a group paddling near Monterey Bay’s Moss Landing Harbor, when one of two whales, that were swimming close to them, rose and broke through the surface of the water, dragging the couple under the sea as the animal knocked over the kayak.
A passenger from Sanctuary Cruises filmed a video of the incident and shared it on Facebook, showing the full 180 degree breach of the whale. In the back of the video, another passenger can be heard saying “where is the kayak? Where’s the kayak?” followed by applauses when the couple appeared alive and unharmed.
Sanctuary Cruises captain and co-owner Michael Sack later wrote on the company’s blog that the event was “one of the most dangerous situations that I’ve seen out here.”
The terrifying experience
Mr. Mustill, 31, and Mrs. Kinloch, 30, described the incident as ‘terrifying’, telling the Daily Telegraph they were lucky to be alive.
“It felt like being in an avalanche, like a bus landing on us,” said Miss Kinloch, although the couple were able to pull themselves out of the water without injuries.
Mr. Mustill, a wildlife filmmaker, does not understand how he is alive, for he could feel the giant whale passing him underwater while he was trying to reach to the surface. “I remember coming to the surface and thinking, ‘How am I not dead?’ Maybe I’ve got lots of injuries, but I’m in shock and can’t feel them,” said Mustill.
What about the whale?
Humpback whales can measure as long as 50 feet and weight 40 tons. Its flippers are very long, between 1/4 and 1/3 of its body and have large knobs on the leading edge.
They exist in the water of the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans, as well as the waters surrounding Antarctica and the Bering Strait. They generally do not come into coastal until they reach the latitudes of Long Island, New York, and Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
This type of whales are considered to be very acrobatic, since they breach high out of the water, twirl around and then slap it as they come back down. Breaching may be for playing purposes or to remove skin parasites. Some believe it has a social meaning. They also swim on their backs with both flippers in the air.
Although these whales do not posses vocal cords, they are famous for their “singing”, which can be heard up to 20 miles away. Whales from North American Atlantic sing the same song, but it is different than the melody sung by whales from North American Pacific. Their songs last from 10 to 20 minutes and at times it is repeated continuously for hours.