Sooner or later, you are going to come across the humpback whale/kayakers video, posted to YouTube two days ago. If you haven’t already, might as well be now. This looks like something from a Universal Studios tour:

The Santa Cruz Sentinel elucidates:

On Halloween, a bikini-clad surfer finds herself a quarter-mile from Seabright Beach, and paddles over to two kayakers out on the ocean for the same reason – to witness firsthand and close up an abundance of humpback whales feeding off Santa Cruz…Two humpbacks shoot up in the foreground, lunge feeding and mouths agape, looking briefly as if they’ve swallowed the surfer whole…What [Barb Roettger] saw still has her shaking, an unexpected close-encounter with two whales that can grow longer than a city bus and move almost as fast. Roettger saw the whales’ telltale bubble net surfacing, but it was too late to move.

A pod of the whales, on their annual migration, has been hanging out closer to shore than usual, and things are getting a little iffy for humans recreating in the water, as you’ve just seen. From the San Francisco Chronicle on Tuesday:

So far, no one’s been hurt, but at least one sailboat was damaged this week when it struck a whale in the warm waters of Monterey Bay, according to the National Marine Sanctuary there.

Both the sanctuary and the U.S. Coast Guard issued warnings Tuesday advising the public to stay at least 100 yards away from the animals or risk a hefty fine – minimum $2,500 – for whale harassment. The Coast Guard plans to have vessels in the area today to keep people a safe distance from the whales.

“The sheer number of folks crowding around the whales is not only an issue for the whales themselves, but also public safety,” said Paul Michel, superintendent of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, who estimated that 100 people, most of them on kayaks or paddleboards, were in the waters last weekend.

Author

Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

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