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Kayakers On Monterey Bay Encounter Massive Humpback Whales

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Kayakers Karen Hatch and Giancarlo Thomae encountered a humpback whale in Monterey Bay. (Giancarlo Thomae, Sanctuary Cruises)

Kayakers Karen Hatch and Giancarlo Thomae encountered a humpback whale in Monterey Bay. (Giancarlo Thomae, Sanctuary Cruises)

MONTEREY (KPIX 5) — A pod of 80,000 pound humpback whales got up close and personal with a group of kayakers on Monterey Bay last week.

The kayakers were three miles off the shore of Moss Landing when they encountered the whales.

“They sensed me, they heard me, they saw me, I don’t know what happened but they dove underneath me like very quickly,” Karen Hatch said.

According to Hatch, one of those 80,000 pound whales surfaced and dove a mere three feet from her kayak. Not a single drop of water splashed inside.

“I was really in awe of how sensitive they were of their surroundings. The fact they were able to sense me and just cruise underneath me, not hit me, very sensitive to their entire surroundings. And those two whales came up later to hang out with us again,” Hatch said.

A buffet of anchovies drew the whales to Monterey Bay’s Submarine Canyon, an ocean shelf that is wider and deeper than the Grand Canyon in some parts.

“It was absolutely amazing,” said Giancarlo Thomae, a marine biologist for Sanctuary Cruises. He was in a kayak alongside Hatch and took the photo that turned the abrupt sighting into a lasting moment.

“When I took the photo I was really scared well, I didn’t know what was going to happen to Karen, when I got back to land I realized that it was probably the best photo I’ve ever seen,” Thomae said.

Thomae reported seeing 15 humpback whales, the most spotted in the same area this year.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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