By Len Ramirez

MONTEREY (KPIX) — Video shot on board the Princess Monterey shows a curious whale popping its head out of the water to check out a recent boat tour.

But he didn’t dive down, instead he stayed close by, floating next to the vessel for several minutes. Then he exhaled through his blow hole and made sounds.

“It’s been really a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Princess Monterey naturalist Kylee Walterman.

Walterman leads tours almost every day but what she and some lucky whale watchers have seen lately has been extraordinary.

“We’ve had what we call ‘friendly whales’ where they come up and seem to interact with boats or circle us and just sit with boats for extended periods of time. It’s just unbelievable,” Walterman said.

Video shot last week shows the whale was not threatening or acting dangerously. And these “friendly whales” aren’t scaring the sightseers. Far from it.

“It’s really neat seeing the whales get super-close to the boat. It’s almost like they’re following,” said Michelle Howard, a tourist from Hanford.

Tour operators don’t know why the whales are getting so close but whales are known to be highly intelligent and highly communicative mammals.

Could it be that they are trying to talk to humans?

“They do make a lot of vocalizations. They make a lot of groans and moans. There’s a chance they’re talking to us because they do those same kinds of sounds to each other. I guess we’ll never know.”