Paddleboarders And Whales – Don’t Try This At Home

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Humpback breaches near paddle boarder in Colombia (Photo by Dan Merkel)

Emmy award winning surf photographer Dan Merkel has captured some awe inspiring images during his 30 year career, and was apparently intent on photographing paddle boarders in the surf down in Colombia when they came across a couple of active humpback whales. (Mail Online).  The surf does not look spectacular, and the lighting must have been disappointing, but the whales more than made up for it.
Increasingly, as paddle boarding has become more popular, people are venturing farther offshore and occasionally are graced with a visit from these benign animals. It is illegal to approach most species too closely – yet if they approach you, chances are you are both lucky, and safe.  Paddle too close to the whales however, or interrupt their rest or other activities and you may get hurt by startled or preoccupied animals.  That said, the more we are able to enjoy the experience of the animals that share the ocean, the more likely we are to protect them, and how amazing it is to witness.  How interested they seem to be in us too:
A Minke whale accompanied paddler Jodie Nelson on her 40 mile, 9 hour trip between Dana Point, Ca and Catalina Island

In March 2010, a Minke whale accompanied paddle boarder Jodie Nelson for two of the nine hours she was on the water, raising money to benefit cancer research. “The Minke whale that joined me for almost two hours on my 39.8 mile journey from Avalon to Dana Point was swimming below me in the clear water. I could see the whales eyes looking at me, its tail would be at times right under and in front of my [board]. I just had to trust the whale and keep paddling.” (See earlier post).
In regions of the world where people cherish the experience of seeing whales and dolphins in the wild, these cetaceans are becoming more relaxed and natural around us – remarkably so because many species live for 100 years or more and have experienced the worst humanity has done to them.
Mark Olson with blue whale off Rodondo Beach (Surftech Paddle Sports)

Axel Ohm paddles by a southern right whale (Exclusive Pix)

“Life is not mea­sured by the breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.”

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