‘It’s like baby-sitting a 40 ton animal’: Divers describe sheer joy after incredible close encounter with a 30ft juvenile humpback whale that spent a ‘playful’ hour swimming with them
- The curious 30ft mammal approached and swam between the group of divers
- They were off the coast of French Polynesia when the whale swam towards them
- Humpback whales are endangered with only an estimated 35,000 remining
Incredible footage shows the moment a curious humpback whale swims between a group of divers, giving them a once-in-a-lifetime close encounter with the giant mammal.
The hair-raising footage was filmed off the coast of French Polynesia, as the 30-foot humpback whale approached the group of divers.
Professional diver Kayleigh Grant filmed the huge mammal swimming between the divers and breaching the surface back in September, with its pectoral fins passing just inches away from her.
The whale stayed with the divers for nearly an hour before parting, and remained so close to the group, they were forced to avoid its huge fins as it moved around them.
Professional diver Kayleigh Grant filmed the huge mammal swimming between the divers off the coast of French Polynesia
Ms Grant, from Kona, Hawaii, said that while whales do not mean any harm to humans, these encounters are still dangerous due to their sheer size.
She said: ‘You have to be cautious, just because of their size even a swipe of the tail fin could be dangerous to a human.’
The majestic mammals can grow up to 62 feet long and weight up to 53 tons.
Ms Grant added that encounters like this are very rare, and have only happened to her a handful of times in her decade-long career as a diver.
She added: ‘We have seasons with whales. They’re not around all the time like sharks, so maybe you’ll get lucky like this once a year if you’re a diver.
‘If you’re a regular person it’s extremely lucky, a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience.’
Ms Grant said that encounters like this are very rare and have only happened to her a handful of times in her decade-long career as a diver
The hair-raising footage was filmed off the coast of French Polynesia, as the 30-foot humpback whale approached the group of divers
The incredible footage shows the moment a curious humpback whale swims between a group of divers off the coast of French Polynesia
This behavior is only found in juveniles who have been recently separated from their mothers and remain curious and playful with humans compared to adult whales.
Layleigh said: ‘It was really beautiful. It’s strange that an animal like that is conscious of their body and approaching in play and curiosity.
‘It really is pretty rare that they will take interest like that. It stayed with us for an hour or more, it seemed quite playful and rambunctious.
‘It’s only happened to me a handful of times and I’ve had hundreds of whale encounters.
‘It’s like babysitting a 40-ton animal. They really do have the playful nature of a toddler of any species, even a human toddler.’
Humpback whales are popular with whale watchers because of their acrobatic displays — including spectacular breachings in which they launch their school-bus-size bodies entirely out of the water and slap the surface with their pectoral fins or tails.
They are often found along the Pacific coastline, from California to Canada, to feed in the summer and fall before migrating south to breeding and birthing grounds off the coast of Mexico.
Some 2,900 frequent the coasts of Washington and Oregon, according to the Marine Mammal Center.
It is also a federal crime in the US to approach a humpback whale.
This playful behavior is only found in juveniles who have been recently separated from their mothers and remain curious and playful with humans compared to adult whales
Professional diver Kayleigh Grant filmed the amazing moment, with her flippers pictured
As well as being curious and friendly, the humpback whales are known for their whale song. Their song can last for hours on end and is used to communicate and attract potential mates. Some humpbacks can produce a song that can be heard over 20 miles away.
The majestic animals can also enjoy a long life span. The creatures can live between 50 and 100 years.
Although humpbacks are not the largest of their kind, they can grow up to 62 feet long and weigh in at 53 tons. Just the flippers alone can reach a length of 16 feet and their tales up to 18 feet wide. Females will also grow larger than their male counterparts.