Derek Savoie was paddleboarding off the coastline of Leo Carrillo State Beach in Malibu, California, when he noticed some gray whales coming his way.
Savoie sat down on his paddleboard atop a kelp forest and waited for the whales to pass, not expecting a close encounter that would take his breath away:
His reaction—amazement, shock, surprise, awe—was written on his face after the gray whale swam underneath him and surfaced to get a breath just inches away from him.
"I was just out for a paddle and saw them coming and luckily had my Go Pro on me and just sat there and they passed literally right underneath me," he wrote in his video description, as reported by Canyon News and ABC News. "My foot dangling in the water even made contact with his/her head!
"This gray whale either didn’t see me sitting in the kelp on my paddleboard or was just very curious and came up to check me out. Either way it was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life.”
Savoie made it clear that the gray whales came to him, as he cautioned others not to approach them. NOAA advises whale watchers to be whale wise and remain at least 100 yards away from the mammals.
Savoie was lucky the gray whales safely passed, giving him a lasting memory.
"[It was a] mind-blowing experience and one I will never forget," he wrote.