Four canoe paddlers experienced what one of them, Laurent Lebihan, described as a “love tap” by a humpback whale during a recent voyage out of Kihei, on Maui. But it appears to have been more like an accidental collision that occurred when the humpback tried to breach in front of their silent vessel. Pay close attention at the 15-second mark when the whale, which began to spin underwater in advance of its breach, clips the bow of the canoe with one of its flippers, to the astonishment of the unsuspecting paddlers.
Lebihan, who uploaded the video, stated during an email interview: “This whale blindsided us. We had never seen him surface or anything. We were literally looking around try to find some whales to film. We had been paddling out to an area where we thought we could see some, obviously from a good distance, because we had seen them from the shore. While we were taking a break, and looking at our surroundings, this happened.”
The paddlers were uninjured and the whale seemed to have been unhurt as well.
Federal guidelines suggest that boaters and paddlers give whales plenty of space, and it’s wise for paddlers to make noise in the vicinity of whales. This is the breeding season for humpback whales in Hawaii, and there are about 10,000 of them in Hawaiian waters.
Just last week a 60-year-old paddler aboard a one-man canoe off the Big Island of Hawaii received minor injuries when a humpback whale flipped his vessel, breaking it in half.
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