Last week, we showed you footage of an incredibly close call captured from a whale-watching boat in Moss Landing, California. Kayakers Tom Mustill and Charlotte Kinloch were lucky to escape with their lives after a humpback whale breached over their tiny boat.
In an article for The Guardian, Mustill recounts what was going through his head at the time:
All of a sudden without warning, the water nearby to our right gave way to an adult whale shooting upwards, like a space shuttle taking off: a huge block of living thing impossibly held in the air. The only thing my brain registered was quite calmly that when it came down I was going to die. Then it fell, and I was underwater. I felt a yawing next to me and I was tossed around. I think this was the body or tail of the whale and I get a funny feeling in my guts when I think back on this.
I came to the surface. I saw Charlotte to my left and our kayak had a dent in the front. I was waiting for the pain to start, but it didn’t. Other kayakers came to our aid, someone fished Charlotte’s flip-flops from the water. Our friend who was in another kayak was very shaken. She had seen the whale land where we were, and then it was gone, and we – and our kayak – were gone too.
We laughed, partly to be alive, and partly because we didn’t know what else to do. The half-hour paddle to shore seemed so long; at the dock we started to shake. Our instructor gave us hot chocolate and a free hat, and told us this had never happened in 30 years. We agreed that no one would ever believe us – and they didn’t really until a video popped up online two days later.
Mustill says that after speaking to a whale specialist about the incident, he believes the gentle giant adjusted his landing after breaching to avoid directly crashing on top of the two kayakers. He adds that the encounter has left him more introspective:
When I lie in bed looking up at the whale in my mind, I think how lucky we are not to have continued to get rid of them as we have done until recently. It is strange that we search so avidly for aliens outside of this planet and are obsessed with creating artificial minds, while knowing so little about the workings of these enormous thinking animals in the sea.
Check out Mustill’s full account of his brush with death here.