In a video making the rounds last week, two people in a tandem kayak were lifted out of the water when a whale breached under their kayak - twice.
Time Magazine reports the video first went viral on Reddit after YouTube user gisela6652 captured the moment off of Puerto Madryn, in Patagonia on her GoPro camera. The video has managed just under 5.3 million YouTube views in less than 2 weeks. A transcript of their conversation in spanish is available via the Australian news site, www.news.com.au.
Though the encounter perfectly harmless, it is important for cruisers to remember to maintain a safe distances when boating near whales, especially when a motor is involved.
Whale research organization, Carib Tails, stresses the importance of safe boating and viewing practices when around marine mammals. In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act, cruisers must reduce speed and remember not to intentionally approach within 100 yards (300 feet) of the animals.
Violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act or the Endangered Species Act can be costly to boaters, with the potential of fines or civil penalties of up to $10,000 and even criminal penalties of up to $20,000 plus imprisonment and/or seizure of vessel and other personal property in extreme cases.
"Mothers and calves are particularly vulnerable to boat interaction. Vessels should not approach whales head on, surround whales, or separate mothers and calves or other whales traveling together," writes the organization on their website. "Whale watching may not seem intrusive, but it can actually disrupt whale feeding, nursing, mating and migrating behavior, and can cause unintended injuries to both whale and whale watcher."