AVILA BEACH, Calif. — Officials say two women are lucky to be alive after a humpback whale capsized their kayak as they paddled in the ocean on Monday.
The incident, which occurred near the Cal Poly Pier, was caught on video by multiple people in the area.
Julie McSorley says she went out Sunday and took pictures of the whales and convinced her friend to go kayaking with her on Monday.
McSorley says there were a lot of birds and fish in the area, so people had their phones at the ready. She said she and her friend could see whales off in the distance.
Seconds later, one of the whales was right underneath them.
While some video footage makes it appear as the women went inside the whale’s mouth, McSorley says their kayak just overturned, and they were thrown underwater.
Video shows McSorley screamed before going underwater for about five or six seconds.
Humpback whales are considered an endangered species, and marine mammal experts say they can be unpredictable and dangerous. Experts say people should keep about a football field’s worth of space between themselves and the large mammals, when possible.
The Port San Luis Harbor Patrol says enforcement can be difficult. Boaters can think they’ve left a whale plenty of space, but the mammals move quickly.
The whales have been making appearances close to shore between Morro Bay and Avila Beach in recent days. Marine mammal experts say they are looking for food that is currently easy to find near the shore.
This story was originally published by KSBY in San Luis Obispo, California.