Whale watchers in Avila Beach, California had a close encounter with a humpback whale as the marine giant almost swallowed two kayakers. The event was caught in the video and has made its round on the internet.
Humpback whales in California are known to be active all year-round, and many tourists go there to see these creatures. Authorities would always remind whale watchers to maintain a football field distance while watching the whales to avoid being capsized, just like what happened to the two women.
Humpback whales usually feed on krill, plankton (like copepods), squid, fish eggs, and other small nektonic life. They have a baleen feeding system that filters the water as they swallow their food.
According to a Fox News report, two kayakers in Avila Beach, California, were almost swallowed alive by the humpback whale, which knocked them off the water on Monday, November 2.
The two were identified as Julie McSorley and Liz Cottriel, who recalled their experience with the humpback whale. McSorley said that her adrenaline immediately kicked in when the whale knocked off their kayak.
They both thought they were already at a safe distance at 30 feet away watching the whales in Avila Beach, but they quickly learned that they were not.
I saw the big pool of fish, the big bait ball come up out of the water. I saw the whale come up, McSorley said. I thought, 'Oh no! It's too close.
The video from onlookers shows the exact moment the two women were knocked over while inside the kayak. Although it looked like they were swallowed, McSorley claimed that they were just turned over and thrown underwater. Cottriel said that she thought the whale was going to land on them.
Other paddle-boarders and kayakers immediately rescued them. Cottriel said that when they got back to their car, a bunch of fish fell from her shirt as she shook it off.
Fortunately, humans are not part of a humpback whale diet, so the two women were not eaten. Also, their esophagus is not big enough to swallow large prey. In case they accidentally swallow humans or preys that are larger than their esophagus, they would spit it out.
However, there were instances when humans got swallowed by other whales like the sperm whale who swallowed James Bartley alive in the 20th century while on a whaling expedition near the Falkland Islands.
The whale was killed later on, and surprisingly, they found Bartley inside the stomach of the whale still alive. He continued to live on for another 18 years and died of natural causes. On his tombstone were written the words read James Bartley- a modern-day Jonah.