You can charter a whale watching tour to see the huge creatures from a distance, or you can kayak up close and personal with whales. But an incident off the coast got way too personal when a humpback whale tries to eat two kayakers in California!
The video was taken by Sam Mcmillan of Atascadero, CA, who was whale watching himself. He took pictures of several humpback whales grazing in the area. They were all in San Luis Obispo Bay, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Two women, Julie McSorely and Liz Cottriel, were kayaking from Avila Beach in a bright yellow tandem kayak. A peaceful scene of the kayakers in the bay with flocks of seagulls flying around. You can hear them chattering as they search for food. The camera pans right where you see another woman in a red kayak looking around causally.
Seconds later the water is lapping and immediately a huge whale comes out of the water, mouth open and the tandem kayak and the women in it appear to have been swallowed! The whale sets and all you can see is the floating yellow kayak upside down, the women are gone! Was the humpback whale trying to eat the two California kayakers? A few seconds later, the video cuts off with a photo of the one woman in the red kayak paddling back and the flock of seagulls making a noise.
The good news is that the women were safe and unharmed. The giant humpback whale broke through the surface just below the kayak where there was a huge ball of bait fish that it was trying to eat. Humpback whales do not intentionally eat humans. This incident was purely the result of a kayaker being in the wrong place while a humpback whale fed on its favorite prey of plankton and small fish which it concentrates in small areas before taking giant gulps of water.
Both women were certainly frightened and alarmed, but recount how they remember seeing the inside of the whale’s mouth, being thrown from their kayak, and turning up next to each other seconds later.
The news report shared that Julie McSorely had been whale watching before. She was excited to invite her boyfriend. Her friend, Liz Cottriel, wouldn’t go! According to CBC Radio News, Liz said, “No, I don’t like the ocean. I’m afraid of sharks. I’m afraid of everything I can’t see in the water.’ But Julie convinced her that it would be safe and fun!
Humpback whales feed along the California coasts from late April to early December. Although they are huge animals, their diet consists of some of the smallest animals of krill, anchovies and sardines.
The kayakers should have been more careful when they saw the flocks of seagulls. The gulls often circle over the areas the whales prefer to eat. Humpback whales can grow 48-62 feet long and weigh 40-100 tons! The one in the video of the humpback whale trying to eat two kayakers in California was probably a juvenile whale because it appeared slightly smaller. Still an extremely scary situation for everyone!
*The following video may be disturbing and contains foul language.
Watch this video if you want to see a humpback whale save a diver from a huge tiger shark!