There is no script to a whale-watching excursion. You can never be sure how it will play out.
So when a group in a 25-foot RIB watching humpbacks off Maui noticed a female turn and head straight for them, slapping her large pectoral fin on the surface during the approach, there was some apprehension.
Naturally, someone on board kept the video rolling.
The collision with the 25-footer was more of a shove than a strike, but it was enough to “toss our boat a good five feet when she hit,” said Jennifer Nap, who videotaped the incident while on the trip with her husband, Ryan. “As soon as she was done pushing us aside, she dove under, then popped right back up on the other side with her calf.”
It remains unclear whether the bump was intentional. Researchers say flipper slapping is not typically a warning or a signal of displeasure. More likely, they say, the whale was distracted by tending to her calf and a male escort.
In any event, the whale seemed to be all right, and the passengers returned to port with lasting memories.