Divers Shawn Stamback and Francis Antigua had a much closer encounter than they expected off the coast of central California on Saturday when two humpback whales surfaced just a few feet away from where they were swimming.
The original video of their experience aptly titled "Whales Almost Eat Divers" has been viewed more than 1 million times on YouTube. It's been edited a bit, to add in footage of the small fish that the whales were apparently feeding on when they surfaced. As you might imagine, a few expletives were uttered during the filming. We'll embed a version in which the Mail Online has helpfully bleeped out the curses.
"Weighing up to 40 tons, humpback whales feed on shrimp-like krill and schooling baitfish like sardines. Given their vast size, they must take in vast amounts of fish, expelling the excess seawater through their baleen plates. As it stands, boaters are advised to stay at least 100 yards away from whales. It is against the law to harass or influence the behavior of any marine mammals, including whales.
"After reviewing the video, mammal expert, Monica DeAngelis, of the National Marine Fisheries Service, said it was unclear based on the footage whether the divers were violating any laws, though it was clear the boat was closer than the 100 yard recommended guidelines. She added that the divers were very lucky no one got hurt."
NBC Bay Area adds that this all happened "just north of Pismo Beach off the coast of Avila Beach, about two and half miles off shore." Stambeck, the station reports, says that "you see pictures, representations of how big a humpback whale is compared to a bus, to a jet, when you see one in person that close they are giant, and it blew my mind how big they are."
Our other posts about close encounters of the aquatic kind include: