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Videos and photos from other kayakers and paddlers appear to show the women and their kayak being momentarily engulfed in the whale’s mouth — though the two friends say it all happened too fast for them to be sure.
“It’s definitely woke me up to the realization that, you know, our place is not in the feeding zone of whales,” McSorley told As It Happens host Carol Off.
“We didn’t think we were that close, but we definitely were right in the area that we shouldn’t have been — so I’ve learned my lesson, big time.”
Humpback whales have been active lately in Luis Obispo Bay near Avila Beach, drawing kayakers and paddlers to the area to watch them feed.
McSorley had already been out to watch them once, so when her friend came to town for a visit, she asked her if she wanted to go.
“Her reaction was, ‘No, I don’t like the ocean. I’m scared of sharks. I’m scared of anything I can’t see in the water.’ And I so ignorantly told her, ‘Oh, they’re never going to dump you over. The kayaks are very stable. I’ve never had an issue,'” McSorley said.
“And so she reluctantly came with me just to have a new experience.”
For the first hour or so, the friends followed a pair of humpbacks as they fed. They would spot the swarms of fish — or “bait balls” — at a distance, watch the whales surface for a munch, wait a few minutes, and then move to the place the whales had just been.
They were sitting peacefully in their kayak waiting to see where the next bait ball would show up, when the little fish suddenly appeared all around them.
“So I knew it was going to be very close, but again, I’d seen whales breach right next kayaks before. So my mind was like, this is going to be, you know, super cool,” McSorley said.
“And then all of a sudden the boat lifted up and we were dumped in the water very, very quickly.”
@freelanews 🐳 sw*llows two friends kayaking at San Luis Obispo Bay in California #tiktoknaija #foryourpage #naijapolitics #goviral #foryou #trending ♬ original sound – Freelanews
However, can a whale swallow a human? No, they can’t – it’s actually not physically possible. While whales can have huge mouths, a whale’s throat is a lot smaller than you might expect, essentially the size of a human fist. So even if someone was swept into a whale’s mouth, it wouldn’t be long before they were swept out again.