In British Colombia’s Georgia Strait, two recreational boaters had an intimate face to face moment with a humpback whale.
Caught on camera, the boaters were treated to several interesting, if a bit nerve-wracking, elements of whale behavior.
“It was really very cool to just look right beside the boat and see the whole length of the whale and see all the little barnacles up close,” Lauren Lan, the boat owner told CBC.
Rolling onto its side and slapping the water with its flipper was all good fun, but as it started to pass under the boat, Lauren and her friend Sonja became nervous.
“Does he think we’re his girlfriend,” Sonja can be heard saying.
In the end, an incidental foot on the bilge pump made a mechanical racket that drove the whale away and out of sight.
CBC reports that 10 years ago this would have been unthinkable. Humpback whales, normally from Hawai’i or Mexico, rarely migrated that far north when their numbers were fewer. But over the last 50 years they’ve made a remarkable recovery.
The women called the gentle giant “stinky.”
“I don’t know how you would know this, you’re never really that close, but humpback whales stink,” said Lan.
This, scientists say, can be blamed on their diet of krill.
While guidelines for whale-watching prohibit coming within 100 meters of a whale, whales can’t read, and so sometimes break the rules. Up-close encounters are rare, but not unheard of, like for this diving couple who almost danced with them.