Monterey Bay kayaker narrowly avoids double-whale surface lunge

By: Pete Thomas,

A dauntingly close encounter this week involving a kayaker and two humpback whales in California’s Monterey Bay is sure to fall under a believe-it-or-not type of scrutiny. But the encounter was captured by a reputable photographer and authenticated by several sources.

Paul Schraub, a freelance photographer hired as part of a marketing campaign by the Santa Cruz County Conference and Visitors Council, was shooting Tuesday from aboard a small boat when the humpbacks emerged vertically, surface lunge-feeding on small bait fish, directly next to the kayaker (see video report below).

Christina Glynn of the Visitor’s Council told the San Jose Mercury News that the photo shoot was intended to make prospective business visitors aware of the special whale-watching opportunities off the region’s coast. The humpback encounter occurred off Seabright State Beach in Santa Cruz County, at the northern edge of Monterey Bay.

The bay is known for attracting a variety of large marine mammals, including humpback whales, which gathered recently to forage on massive schools of anchovies. What’s remarkable is that the humpbacks, which are famously gregarious, did not crash down upon the surface. Rather, they just slipped gently downward and the kayaker, while undoubtedly awestruck, was unscathed. And surely, Schraub earned his paycheck and then some.

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  • PeterD

    I was out off of Santa Cruz on Thursday and saw the whales doing some lunge feeding. Caught a video of another kayaker getting a little too close to the bait balls the whales were feeding on:

    Did get an awesome picture:

  • Jose Echevarria

    My point of view from shore showing the whale, kayaker and the photographer on the sailboat.

  • David Smith

    Too bad this burnout didn’t get thrashed by a tail. Violating laws and approaching wales doesn’t make him a hero, it makes him a criminal (caught on film) and hopefully Federal Authorities will pursue prosecution, setting an example and reducing those interested in copy cat activities.

  • escalantedreamer

    its against the law to harass cetacians. this guy said in the interview that he kept gowing over to wher the seagulls were becaus that was where they were surfacing. this spacecadet thinks it was so cool to get that close to the whale. then people are going to be all over that bay doing the same thing. God what a MORON. Thank younice way to ruin a feeding patern. way to go. people promote his stupid irresponsible behaviour.
    what if the whale whould have came up under that idiot and injured it’s self. Mabe Discovery Channel could have filmed the Great whites as they tore it to peices. and the Kayakers could have got close for that to.
    Now in when people flock to this bay to kayak out in the hundreds to try to get close like they do with dolphins and with shark encounters and it changes the feeding paterns of these animals thank youselvs for promotingthatr one idiot good Job

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