Passengers aboard the Manute’a got an eye full recently when an 80-foot blue whale surfaced alongside the boat, stole a breath and revealed its massive backside and fluke. But the best view was enjoyed by a paddleboarder who got breathtakingly close to the great leviathan (see video).
This occurred last weekend off Dana Point, Calif., and the video, shot by David Anderson of Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari, was posted this week. The paddleboarder appeared to be trying to capture underwater footage of the mammoth creature — blue whales are the largest mammals ever to inhabit the planet — when he jumped into the water as the whale dipped beneath the surface.
Blue whales, which can measure 100 feet and weigh as much as 150 tons, have been abundant off Southern California and it may be tempting for people to join the graceful cetaceans in close quarters. But it’s not safe and it’s against National Marine Fisheries Service guidelines to intentionally approach within 50 yards of whales.
Any act that alters the behavior of whales is considered harassment and punishable by fines up to $10,000.
Anderson said the blue whale in the video had been feeding on shrimp-like krill and did not alter its behavior in the presence of the paddleboarder.
“Blue whales are very aware of what’s going on around them,” Anderson said. “But still, people need to really respect the whale and should not do anything that could be considered harassment. I certainly don’t want to encourage that kind of behavior.”
The blue whale season has become phenomenal off Orange County, as several of the sleek giants have congregated to take advantage of an abundance of krill.
Anderson said that on Monday alone his passengers saw 19 blue whales, three fin whales, one humpback whale and hundreds of dolphins. In a recent five-day period his landing tallied 110 blue whale sightings, and with krill still in great blooms beneath the surface from Santa Barbara to San Diego — a single whale can consume four tons of krill per day — the viewing season figures to remain outstanding for at least the next several weeks.