Whale watchers in a small boat off Hawaii received an unexpected shock recently, as a humpback whale turned toward them, slapping the water with her fin, before crashing into their inflatable vessel headfirst.
Passengers gasped at the first sight of the female whale, as the Daily Mail reports, unaware that they’d soon be treated to a much closer view. Footage of the incident, taken by Jennifer Nap, depicts the whale as it suddenly turns toward the 25-foot-vessel, slapping its large pectoral fin against the surface of the sea. After just a moment, the group’s excitement turns to worried shouts, as the whale clearly displays that she has no intention of turning away.
One passenger shouts that the whale is going to ram them, while another puts his excitement on full display. The humpback strikes their boat, and though the impact amounts to a solid shove, Nap noted that the whale moved their boat several feet, shouldering it aside.
“As soon as she was done pushing us aside she dove under, then popped right back up on the other side with her calf,” Nap recalled.
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It remains unclear whether the whale struck the boat intentionally, Grind TV notes, though it is thought that the humpback may not have noticed the craft since its engines were off at the time of the collision. Lee James, CEO for Ultimate Whale Watch, asserted that the whale was distracted at the time of impact as well.
“It is most likely that this mom was distracted with her calf and keeping another eye on a escort that was being a little irritating for the female, as escorts can be,” he said. “We think she simply wasn’t paying attention and bumped the boat, then carried on pec slapping like nothing happened.”
Earlier this month, a group in a small, 10-foot-long boat had a similarly close encounter with a pod of killer whales off the California coast. As the Inquisitr previously reported, the whales repeatedly approached the boat, getting as close as possible to the stunned trio.
Researchers noted that flipper slapping is not commonly used as a warning by whales, which are far more apt to strike the water with their tail to express displeasure. Whales are also known to issue warnings with sounds, none of which can be heard in the video.
Around 10,000 of the endangered humpback whales are currently in the waters off Hawaii for their winter mating season.
[Image: YouTube/ Ryan Nap via Grind TV]