A freediver off Queensland, Australia, can attest firsthand that swimming with humpback whales, even though they mean no harm, is fraught with danger.
Connor Lyons, 19, was snorkeling with two friends Wednesday off Noosa Heads when a humpback whale calf breached and almost landed directly on top of him. The harrowing moments were captured on video and reveal the turbulence created by the 1-ton mammal.
"I got in just enough kicks to avoid the whale, but it just clipped me and I lost my flipper," Lyons told 9 News. "The force created a little tornado and pulled me under for a second."
The three freedivers, who were snorkeling beyond Double Island Point just north of Noosa Heads, were about to return to shore when they spotted the mother whale and her calf in the distance.
They did not intend to dive with the whales, Lyons said, because of the mammals' size and unpredictable nature. But soon enough, the whales were among them, and the playful calf decided to breach.
"The calf was coming so fast at us… we couldn't kick fast enough," Lyons recalled. "And when the whale popped up it landed back down on my left leg and knocked my fin off."
He’s fortunate to have emerged unscathed, and extremely fortunate that it was a breaching calf and not a breaching mom.
Adult humpback whales, which also like to breach, can measure 50-plus feet and weigh as much as 40 tons.
More about whale encounters from GrindTV