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Animal Rights

VIDEO: Redondo Beach Kayaker Nearly Overturned by Massive Blue Whale

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Mon, Oct 17, 2011 at 2:15 PM
click to enlarge A kayak's worst nightmare - MRRJCTUBE VIA YOUTUBE
  • MrRJCtube via YouTube
  • A kayak's worst nightmare

Whale-watching enthusiasts are clammy in their wetsuits over the latest handheld footage of a big California blue off the coast of Redondo Beach.

The video was shot by YouTube user MrRJCtube, who happened upon his gorgeous specimen while kayaking solo a couple weeks ago.

Outdoorsy blogger Pete Thomas -- also the first to dig up that golden vid of Venice Beach surfers saving a baby great white shark -- posted the close encounter to his site today...

... writing that MrRJCtube "captured surface lunge-feeding while filming with what presumably was a helmet camera."

However, Thomas added, "the videographer undoubtedly placed himself at risk by getting so close to such a large and powerful creature (blue whales can measure 100 feet and weigh up to 150 tons)."

Heh. The kayaker -- realizing the vicious animal-activist crowd was not going to be cool with his little "leave no trace"-violating tea party -- soon added the following to his own YouTube comments.

"I'd like to take a moment to state that I don't recommend, endorse or in any way want to encourage anyone to try and swim with these whales. The whales are large unpredictable animals and potentially dangerous. I've talked to the NOAA and would like to share these Whale Watching Guidelines from the NOAA site: swr.nmfs.noaa.gov/psd/watching­.htm."

And, to spare you another browser tab, here are the NOAA guidelines.

  • Vessels should not be operated at speeds faster than a whale or group of whales while paralleling them within 100 yards.
  • Vessels should be operated at a constant speed while paralleling or following whales within 100 yards.
  • Vessels should do nothing to cause a whale to change direction.
  • Aircraft should not fly lower than 1,000 feet while within a horizontal distance of 100 yards from a whale.

Generally, a whale's normal behavior should not be interrupted. Such annoyance may cause a whale to change its direction rapidly, swim faster, or swim in an erratic pattern. To interrupt a whale's normal activity constitutes harassment and is against the law!

Hmm. Said protocol didn't seem to be on kayaker dude's mind around 1:30 in the video, when he hops from his kayak in hopes of an even awesomer close-up. Or at 1:42, when he whoops, "Woohoo!" and flashes his best devil horns to the camera. Or 2:15, when he nearly pokes the blue whale's eye out in frenzied hopes of going viral.

But no one's hurt, thank god, and now we all get to feel the vicarious tingle of swimming with a sea mammoth. Yay for reckless adventurists! And helmet cams! And Internets!

Here's another blue whale run-in mentioned by Thomas -- shot by a paddleboarder off Dana Point earlier this summer.

[@simone_electra/swilson@laweekly.com]

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