There are few things scarier than the prospect of being crushed by something bigger than most of the dinosaurs. An average humpback whale weighs approximately 79,000 pounds. To put that mind-boggling number in perspective, it’s about the equivalent of 16 pickup trucks. Now imagine that coming out of the ocean, lingering in the air just long enough for you to realize what’s about to happen, and then slamming on top of you.
That’s pretty scary.
Yet for two kayakers who lived through the experience, it was a “most extraordinary thing.”
The incident shown on video below took place earlier this week near Moss Landing, California when a group of kayakers ran across some humpback whales. Without warning, one of the whales breached very close to the group and appeared to have landed directly on a kayak. Thankfully, there were no injuries, even though the kayak was violently overturned. The kayakers say the whale only clipped the craft rather than a direct hit, which could have been much more dangerous.
“We were taken under the water by the whale, perhaps in the down-draft,” one of the kayakers, who only identified himself as Tom, told Yahoo News. “I think it brushed against me while I was out of the kayak… Neither of us know how we weren’t ended there and then.”
Captain Mike Sack of Sanctuary Cruises, who witnessed the incident, called the incident one of the most dangerous in his entire career.
“Kayaking with whales can be extremely dangerous. It can turn into a life or death situation real quick-like. Within seconds. It was very scary to watch,” he wrote on the Sanctuary Cruises website. “They came very close to getting crushed to death by the mighty humpback whale. A full-size humpback can weigh in at 40-tons. That’s a lot of heavy blubber that would surely flatten a kayaker if the whale had a direct hit.”
When nearby paddlers came to help the kayakers, they discovered that the kayak had been partially bent by the whale’s landing. Fortunately, nobody was hurt and the kayakers were able to make it back to shore.
Sack, who leads whale-watching cruises on a 43-foot Delta Marine, warns against approaching whales too closely on a kayak. In addition to being unsafe, it is also illegal in some places.