An Alaska man survived a close encounter with a humpback whale on a paddleboard, not even getting wet during the seconds captured on camera by friends and family as the giant creature appeared in front of him and then slithered under his board.
“It’s just that big. You’re poor against that whale,” said Kevin Williams of Anchorage Thursday, a week after his adventure with a mature humpback whale in Prince William Sound. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, mature females can weigh up to 70,000 pounds and average up to 49 feet. Males are slightly smaller.
“Anyone who claims they wouldn’t be scared in that situation is crazy,” Williams said.
A tourist at Yellowstone National Park was caught on video taking a selfie with the bison
“If you have a whale that doesn’t know you’re there and they’re close, that’s not a good situation,” he said. A flick of an animal’s feather “or whatever it does could be the end of my life.”
Williams, his son Brian and some other friends were paddleboarding or kayaking in the sound just off Whittier, about 60 miles southeast of Anchorage.
They had seen whales in the fjord, which is about 2 miles wide. Williams said he was slower than his friends, who were about 200 feet ahead of him.
The whale started to go to his friends, but they were close to shore so he thought the whale would run out of the room and change course. He thought he was in the safest place because he was behind the group.
The whale went underwater for about 45 seconds, longer than he had seen it on previous dives.
“And it came right in front of me, coming at me,” Williams said. “Wow! I love watching whales up close, but I’m on a paddle board.”
Yellowstone National Park officials say the man disturbed the child, which resulted in his death.
As the whale slipped under the water and turned on its side, he could see the white of its belly slowly sliding about 3 feet below the surface.
The whale’s pectoral fin was sticking a few feet out of the water, and Williams feared that the creature would flip over while swimming beneath him, or that it might fall off the board and land on its belly.
“If I had fallen down, you know, my feet could have easily landed on that wheel – tickled that wheel or whatever,” he said.
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To steady himself in case of a feather, he buckled his knees together, knelt down, then lowered himself onto all fours.
When the whale passed under him, “there was hardly any commotion, and I didn’t get wet,” he said, adding that it was rare for people to be hurt by whales.
Still, the experience won’t keep Williams out of the water. He plans another paddleboarding trip later Thursday.
“I’ll never stop, and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” he said.