I know I’m not the only one who finds the sheer size of whales almost impossible to believe.
Like many before me, I will never forget the very first time I saw a life-size model of a blue whale in London’s Natural History Museum; a mammal which can reach over 90 feet in length.
I couldn’t have been more than six years old and I felt terrified and fascinated all at the same time. The scale of the creature put into perspective the dizzying vastness of the oceans, and indeed the world.
Years later, I am still captivated by whales. From the welfare of orcas to the formidable brain size of sperm whales, there is always something new to learn and appreciate about these mysterious undersea giants.
Very few of us will ever get up close with these majestic beasts in their natural habitat. We may watch them perform tricks in cramped marine mammal parks; we may catch a glimpse of them from the comfort of a cruise liner.
However, only a handful of individuals will ever experience the full force of their wild, powerful beauty; getting close enough to touch the slippery surface of their blubber.
This is the incredible situation one paddle boarder found himself in while out paddling near Crescent Head Back Beach, Australia.
Paddle boarder Alexander Ehlers found himself in a ‘unique’ situation after following a pod of dolphins, only to encounter a herd of whales:
It was just me in Crescent Head Back Beach on the 6th of August 2018. I have been paddling around the headland on a SUP when a huge group of dolphins appeared.
After following them to the back beach this very unique situation with the whales happened.
Filming himself as he paddled along in the seemingly serene blue ocean, Alexander can be heard exclaiming ‘oh wow, oh my god’ as the group of whales approach.
One of the gigantic creatures swims directly under his paddle board as fearless Alexander laughs with delight.
For many of us, this introduction would be way too close for comfort, but Alexander appears to be in his element, grinning with joy and surprise as one of the whales makes a low growling sound.
For a moment, the sparkling sea surface is calm once again. However, this is not the end of the encounter.
Alexander continues to strike out through the waters, but it isn’t long until one of the whales rises above the surface; right up on the paddle board as if saying a casual hello.
No sooner had the whale risen, it turned and continued on its merry way, expelling a puff of air through its blowhole; leaving Alexander chuckling with disbelief.
It almost seemed as though the curious whale was as interested in Alexander as he was in the herd, enjoying catching the baffled little human unawares.
Remember, Alexander was all alone in the big blue; outnumbered by multiple whales. How many of us could keep so cool?
What a fascinating and unforgettable encounter. I bet he’s glad he packed his camera!
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.