In a thrilling real-life drama reminiscent of scenes from “Finding Nemo,” a humpback whale almost swallows two kayakers off the California coast. The kayakers swallowed, spat out, and walked away from this extraordinary encounter with a tale they’ll never forget.
- Two kayakers, Julie McSorley and Liz Cottriel, were nearly swallowed by a humpback whale while whale watching off the coast of Avila Beach, California.
- This event was unexpected and extraordinarily rare, but both women escaped unharmed.
- This remarkable encounter with the kayakers was documented from their perspective and by other witnesses.
- This close call with a humpback whale is a stark reminder of the importance of responsibly observing wildlife.
An Unforgettable Encounter
Two kayakers experienced an event of a lifetime: being nearly swallowed by a humpback whale. Julie McSorley and Liz Cottriel were enjoying a day of whale watching off the coast of Avila Beach, California, when a massive humpback suddenly engulfed their kayak. Miraculously, both women escaped the encounter unharmed, and the kayakers and nearby witnesses captured the surreal moment on video.
Almost Like Dory and Marlin
Much like our kayakers, the duo; Doris and Marlin in Finding Nemo, experiences a moment of fear and uncertainty inside the cavernous mouth of the whale. However, in a twist of humor and fantasy, the whale communicates with Dory and, in a great act of cetacean generosity, expels them safely out of its blowhole, propelling them closer to their destination. While much less whimsical, the real-life encounter of McSorley and Cottriel carries the same message: the ocean and its inhabitants are full of surprising moments that remind us of our peaceful place in the vast ecosystem. So, whether on screen or in the waters off Avila Beach, these experiences stress the importance of respect and care when interacting with our marine cohabitants.
Understanding the Humpback
The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is a member of the Baleen family and has a distinctive body shape, long pectoral fins, and the ‘humps’ on its head from which it gets its name. Adults can range from 14–17 meters long and weigh 40 metric tons. These gentle giants have for unique surface behaviors, including breaching, and males produce complex songs that can last from 4 to 33 minutes.
Humpbacks exists in oceans and seas worldwide, migrating up to 16,000 km yearly. They feed in polar waters, dining primarily on krill and small fish, and migrate to tropical or subtropical waters to breed and give birth.
However, these majestic creatures have faced significant challenges. Once hunted to the brink of extinction, the humpback whale population has partially recovered from a low of around 5,000 in the 1960s to approximately 135,000 today. They continue to face threats from entanglement in fishing gear, collisions with ships, and noise pollution.
A Close Call with Nature
While the humpback whale is not typically aggressive towards humans. This extraordinary event serves as a stark reminder of the unpredictability of nature. Whales are federally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Further, it is encouraged to stay at least 100 yards away from these marine giants. Approaching them too closely can endanger both humans and the whales themselves.
Further, boaters and drone operators must follow responsible viewing guidelines. For boaters, slowing down, staying out of the whale’s direction of travel, and not getting between whales. This applies especially to mothers and calves. On the other hand, drone operators should avoid buzzing or landing near the mammals as it is likely to upset them.
Be Whale Wise
If a marine mammal appears injured, dead, or stranded, it’s important to report the sighting to local authorities. Hotlines are available for reporting such incidents and for reporting entangled marine mammals, harassment, and other violations to law enforcement.
In conclusion, while the unique experience of McSorley and Cottriel serves as an intriguing tale of survival. It also underscores the importance of observing marine wildlife from a safe distance. Remember, being “whale wise” ensures your safety and protects these magnificent creatures. This further allows them to continue their epic journeys across the world’s oceans.
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