San Diego-based wildlife photographer Dale Frink was on a whale-watching trip July 2 when he came across a pair of blue whales.
Just he and the captain were aboard a chartered RIB — the skipper at the helm and Frink at the bow. The whales appeared to be feeding deeply, so they went off to observe some bottlenose dolphins.
It looked as if more blue whales had shown up, so they returned to that area. The whales had started lunge feeding, and one made a sharp turn in front of the boat.
“Suddenly we did not know where the whale was — it could have been anywhere,” Frink posted on his website. “Per proper whale-watching etiquette, the captain stopped the boat to wait for the whale to come up before moving away from the animal.”
Indeed, a whale surfaced — and hit the stern.
“The blue whales eventually resurfaced directly behind the boat without warning, mouths completely open in the middle of another lunge feed,” Frink said. “We had little time to react. At the time I had two GoPro cameras mounted, pointing directly in front of the boat. One of them caught me turning to see the whale and snap a photo of the first whale making contact with the boat. The second blue whale of the pair then came up even closer and bumped the boat again, giving it the last bit of inertia it needed to go completely [over].”
Luckily, a nearby boat was able to quickly pull both men aboard.
Click here to see the photo Frink took before the boat went over.
Frink posted the video on YouTube, and it quickly went viral and drew plenty of media attention. Concerned about how the video may create a bad perception about him and the captain, Frink posted the following on his Facebook page:
“Most of the people who think that the video ‘looks bad’ are justifiably concerned for the safety of the whales. I can agree with that, as someone who emphatically encourages safe boating around whales. I feel confident saying that the captain was doing everything within her ability to be safe and respectful for the animals. Accidents happen, however, and things would have been a lot worse if proper protocols and modern safety equipment not been in place.”