Sam Mcmillan, who lives in Atascadero, California, was photographing a kayaker swallowed by a whale “humpback whale” in San Luis Obispo Bay when he witnessed one whale breach the surface directly under a pair of kayakers. Mcmillan was able to get some great shots of the whale. (Image courtesy of Sam McMillan Photography)
After she and her friend found themselves inside the mouth of a humpback whale, Julie McSorley says the experience taught her an important lesson: "Whales need their space."
On Monday morning, McSorley and Liz Cottrill were kayaking together in San Luis Obispo Bay, California, watching the whales feed on silverfish when one of the massive sea creatures surfaced beneath them, toppling their kayak and knocking them into the water. They were able to swim to safety after being hit into the water by the whale.
Even though other paddlers and kayakers have taken photos and videos showing the two women and their kayak briefly consumed by the whale, the women claim they could not confirm what happened.
McSorley shared with the host of As It Happens, Carol Off, that the experience “has woken me up to the realization that, you know, our place is not in the feeding zone of whales.”
"We didn't think we were that close, but we were right in the area that we shouldn't have been. As a result, I've learned my lesson a lot more than I should have," he said.
Kayakers nearly swallowed by humpback whale in California
Recently, humpback whales have been seen feeding in the area of Luis Obispo Bay, which is close to Avila Beach, which has brought many kayakers and paddlers to the region.
She asked her friend, who was in town for a visit at the same time as McSorley, if her friend would like to join her for the performance because McSorley had already seen them perform once.
"Her response was, "No, the ocean is not something I enjoy." I have a strong phobia of sharks, and I'm terrified of anything in the water that I can't see clearly.' And I, being so naive, foolishly assured her that "Oh, they're never going to dump you over." The kayaks have a high degree of steadiness, and I've never run into a problem before,' "McSorley said.
“As a result, she came along with me despite her reservations just to try something different.”
Kayaking in the San Luis Obispo Bay in California is the subject of this photograph taken by Sam McMillan of Atascadero, California. On the right is Liz Cottrill, and on the left is Julie McSorley. (Image courtesy of Sam McMillan Photography)
The group of friends followed a pair of feeding humpback whales for approximately the first hour of their adventure. They would first observe the schools of fish, also known as "bait balls," from a distance, then watch as the whales came to the surface to eat, wait a few minutes, and then move to the location where the whales had most recently been.
They were enjoying the peaceful ride in their kayak as they waited to see where the next school of bait fish would show up when the small fish began to swim all around them.
"Consequently, I was aware that it was going to be a very close encounter; however, as I mentioned earlier, I'd previously witnessed whales breaching right next to kayaks. Consequently, my thoughts went along the lines of "this is going to be, you know, super cool," "McSorley said.
"And then suddenly the boat lifted, and all of a sudden we were dumped out into the water very, very quickly."
After the whale surfaced in the water between Cottrill and McSorley, Sam Mcmillan of Atascadero, California, took this photograph, which shows a kayak paddle protruding from the whale's mouth. (Image courtesy of Sam McMillan Photography)
Cottrill could see the inside of the whale's mouth coming down on them, but at the time, she mistook it for the whale's stomach. She threw up her hand to halt it, panicked and bewildered as she was.
"I'm mulling it over in my head and thinking, "I'm going to push. To put it another way, I'm going to move a whale so we can proceed. It was the most peculiar thought ever. I can't help but think, 'I'm going to die, and I'm dead.' I was afraid that it was going to fall on me. "Cottrill shared his thoughts with the regional Fox News affiliate.
"The next thing I know, I'm drowning in the ocean."
McSorley claims that everything took place so quickly that she can only recall the sensation of the boat rising, followed by the realization that she was below the surface.
"Once we were in the water, we didn't know where we were," she said. "We didn't know if we were underneath the whale or being sucked down with the whales."
"Therefore, the two of us popped up right next to the kayak and next to each other simultaneously. It was crazy."
Sam Mcmillan was taking pictures of the whales and was located nearby at the time. When he saw how big the bait ball was, he said, "I just knew I was going to get a good shot." He shared this information with the program As It Happens.
However, it wasn't until he heard people shouting "Are you OK?" that he realized there were also two people and a kayak amidst the school of fish and the whale.
He explained, "I checked on Julie and Liz to make sure they were OK, but it wasn't until I got home and saw the photos that I had taken, where you can see that they were right in the whale's mouth, that I realized just what had happened." “I checked on Julie and Liz to make sure they were OK, but it wasn't until I got home and saw the photos that I had taken,”
According to McSorley, it wasn't until other kayakers came to their aid that McSorley and Cottriel realized they were in trouble.
In the meantime, McSorley has stated that she will not go kayaking again when whales are present unless she can maintain a distance equivalent to that of a football field from the whales.
"I'll kayak in the ocean by dolphins and otters and seals and all the others," she said. "I'll kayak in the ocean by all of them." “However, I believe that the whales require their own space.”