From Jaws to Moby Dick, there's a long history of fascinating tales about dangers at sea -- but there was no suspenseful music or careful foreshadowing to warn two boaters of this incredibly close call with two large blue whales off the coast of San Diego.
Out of nowhere, two giant blue whales rose from under Captain CiCi Sayer and Dale Frink's boat off the coast of San Diego July 2, casting them into the ocean.
Thankfully neither was hurt –– only shocked. But check out what happens when a whale slams into a 23-foot vessel. KGTV reports:
"Two whales came out of the water, hit this boat, landed on the motor, popped the top off of that. This is mostly made of rubber and metal, some of it damaged as well - you see where it was deflated as they flipped it back over."
Weighing 250,000 pounds on average, blue whales are thought to be the largest animals inhabiting the earth according to Marine Mammal Center. And in this case, there were two of them.
But once the shock had passed, even Frink had a little laugh when talking about having the presence of mind to take a photo while falling into the ocean to KFMB.
"And I said to myself, 'Dale, just do what you can, keep yourself safe ... but if you can save that camera –– save the camera.'"
Frink is serious, though, when he says he and Sayer weren't planning on getting that close to any whales. He wrote on his website: "I cannot stress enough that the Captain was doing her best NOT to get too close to these animals, and that she did her best to follow proper procedure. It was a freak accident that is very rare for whale watching boats."
A site dedicated to humane use of animals in tourist attractions says an estimated 13 million people whale watch annually.
Whale watching can pose its own dangers - but not necessarily to humans. When the same groups of whales are targeted for tourism, their behavioral patterns can change. Tourism groups can collide with whales, separate mothers and their young, and disrupt feeding as the whales spend more time trying to swim away.
Frink says he's an advocate of boating practices that are safe for sea creatures, and he hopes the surprised look on his face and the length of his camera lens communicate to viewers that he and Sayer prefer to respect whales' space.
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