(KTLA) – Passengers aboard a whale watching excursion that departed from the Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard, California got a one-of-a-kind show Monday morning.
People aboard “Sunfish,” a 53-foot vessel with Channel Islands Expeditions, got to witness a pair of gray whales as they approached the boat in an unbelievable act of animal curiosity.
Video of the encounter was captured by the expedition company and shared with Nexstar’s KTLA.
The video shows the massive mammals come within inches of the side of the boat and blow a spout into the air — much to the delight of the whale watching passengers.
Alexander Legaspi, captain of the Sunfish, said the whales put on the show of a lifetime.
“This pair of northbound whales took a break from their annual 13,000+ mile migration to and from, to get up close and personal with us,” Legaspi said.
The captain said the pair of whales spent more than an hour entertaining the passengers, rolling, peeking their heads out of the water and blowing bubbles with wide open mouths.
Legaspi said the encounter was incredibly rare, adding that encounters with grays like the one his boat experienced usually only happen in shallow lagoons near their breeding grounds in Baja, Mexico.
“Words cannot express just how special it was to spend time eye to eye with these whales as they viewed at everyone onboard and just how exceptionally rare it was for these animals to display behavior like this off the coast of California,” Legaspi said.
The Sunfish captain said it was the first time the company has witnessed such an encounter with gray whales over its many years of operation.
Legaspi added that the boat was totally stationary with the engine off and the whales approached out of their own curiosity.
Adult Pacific gray whales can grow up to 45 feet long and weigh as much as 33 tons, according to the National Park Service. Because of their extremely long migration, gray whales pass along many coastal communities and are possibly the most viewed of any of the large whale species.