Surfers near Sydney, Australia, were greeted by an endangered southern right whale and her calf recently as they rode waves and sat on their boards.
“They were there for about two days,” Tabitha Blake, one of the Shelly Beach surfers, told FTW Outdoors. “I was surfing with them for two hours. It was amazing and it felt so surreal to be able to be up that close and personal.”
The accompanying Instagram footage, captured by researcher Megan Smythe, shows both whales interacting just beyond the surf as two surfers enjoy a front-row view from the lineup.
In a second video clip, shared by Smythe to the Whale Reports Central Coast group Facebook page, four surfers, including Blake (wearing a ponytail), are shown smiling in appreciation after the right whale calf spyhops next to mom. (Click here to view the video.)
Remarkably, the surfers remained calm and resisted whatever temptation there might have been to paddle closer to the 40-ton whale and her calf.
“All surfers kept a safe distance as the two whales kept coming in closer,” Smythe told FTW Outdoors. “I spent five hours watching them and it was unreal.”
Smythe captured her footage July 13 at Shelly Beach in Manly, a suburb of Sydney in New South Wales.
She said the whales remained for two days and seemed to be curious about the surfers. The same whales were spotted inside Sydney Harbor a few days later.
Southern right whales, which can measure 50-plus feet, are found throughout the Southern Hemisphere. They were hunted extensively until about the 1960s and are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
–Video and images are courtesy of Megan Smythe