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Two kayakers nearly swallowed, then spit out by mammoth humpback whale in California


Two friends kayaking in the Port San Luis Harbor on Thursday had a close encounter with a humpback whale — and were lucky enough to have it captured on film.

Kathleen MacMahon of Grover Beach and Joyce DeLine of Shell Beach were kayaking about halfway out in the bay where boats are moored near Avila Beach when they suddenly noticed a large group of fish swimming below their boat and leaping out of the water.

One fish even jumped into the women’s boat.

“You could tell something was going to happen very close,” MacMahon said.

Then, the wake began to rise and a humpback whale appeared close enough to the kayak for the women to touch.

“All of a sudden, the whale came up and we were, like, lifted in the air,” DeLine said.

MacMahon said she thinks there may have even been two whales swimming nearby. The animals “just gently came up and went back down,” she said.

“I thought we were going to tip over for sure,” MacMahon said. “But we didn’t, and the whale came right up next to us.”

DeLine described the experience as “thrilling and scary at the same time.”

David Barnard of Los Osos — who runs a sailboat charter in Morro Bay and currently has a boat moored at Port San Luis — snapped the women’s photo and shared it with them.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” DeLine said. “It really makes you appreciate where you get to live.”

©2020 The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)

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