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Friday, 18 September 2015

Whale kayak couple: 'We thought we were going to die'

A couple who survived a close encounter with a humpback whale while kayaking have spoken of how they "thought [they] were going to die".

Tom Mustill and Charlotte Kinloch from London were paddling near Monterey Bay, California, when the incident happened.( BBC Science)

Onlookers feared the worst as the pair disappeared from view. Yet, remarkably, they were left without a scratch and the only damage was a small dent to the kayak’s bow. The extraordinary incident was captured on film by a passenger on a whale-watching boat.

Mr Mustill, who is used to close encounters with animals in his job as a wildlife film-maker, said he was still struggling to believe they had survived to tell the tale.

Tom Mustill and Charlotte Kinloch and their very close encounter with a whale

“I remember coming to the surface and thinking, ‘How am I not dead? Maybe I’ve got lots of injuries but I’m in shock and can’t feel them,’” he recalled. “Then I saw Charlotte and thought, ‘How is she not dead?’”

The pair, both from London, were among a party of friends enjoying a holiday in California. Mr Mustill, 31, had learned that an unusually large group of migrating humpback whales had been spotted off the coast in an area called Moss Landing, and three of the friends set out an early morning trip last Saturday.

They had spent three hours in the water, watching whales breach in the distance, and were on their way back to shore.

Mr Mustill said:“We had an amazing couple of hours and we were headinghome. There were whales on the surface that we were watching, but we didn’t see this one;when a whale breaches you don’t see it on the surface because it has toget momentum from quite deep down.

“Then we saw it. It was above us and all I could see was this whale crashing towards us, blocking out the light. I thought, "Oh, I’m going to die now".
The kayak was dragged under the surface and the pair were thrown out of it. 

“There was a huge amount of suction and it pulled us underwater,” Mr Mustill said. “For me, that was the really scary part because [it was when] I felt I could do something to make a difference to being alive or not, but I felt the whale in the water next to us and it was so powerful, I can’t really comprehend it even now.” ( The Telegraph)

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