Video of kayakers being capsized by a whale has resurfaced on social media, bringing debate with it
The angle of an onlooker’s video made it appear as if the women were swallowed by the whale
Debate over video footage of two women being knocked out of their kayak by a humpback whale from nearly two years ago is making the rounds again this week.
Were they swallowed? Despite that dramatic video you saw on Facebook, the answer is no.
Julie McSorely and Liz Cottriel were whale watching off the coast of Avila Beach, California, in November 2020 when suddenly a humpback whale breached and knocked the women out of their kayak.
Video an onlooker captured of the close encounter made it appear as if the kayakers were swallowed by the whale, but according to the women, they were actually just tipped from their kayak into the water.
McSorley recounted the experience in an interview with CNN affiliate KMPH at the time, saying “I saw the big pool of fish, the big bait ball come up out of the water.”
Surrounded by fish, McSorely began to notice the whale swimming closer to her and Cottriel before they were suddenly knocked into the water. “I saw the whale come up. I thought, ‘Oh, no! It’s too close.’ All of a sudden, I lifted up and I was in the water,” McSorely said.
Cottriel told KMPH in the 2020 interview that the whale was right in front of her face and she kept thinking she would push the whale out of her way if it got too close. “I thought it was gonna land on me. Next thing I know, I’m underwater,” Cottriel said.
After being capsized by the whale, the two women were able to emerge from the water and escape without injury. Other paddleboarders and kayakers came to their aid to make sure they didn’t need medical attention.
“They thought the whale had the kayak in its mouth,” McSorely said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Humpback whales are popular with whale watchers because of their typical activity on the ocean’s surface. Humpback whales will over jump out of the water and fall back in, creating a large splash.
Whale encounters have been back in the news after a number of humpback whales have been seen in the waters of Plymouth, Massachusetts, including one that breached the water and landed on a boat last week, according to NBC Boston.
Close calls between whales and humans bring a reminder that federal guidelines recommend people should stay back from these protected animals.
“It is important to remember that vessel strikes not only can harm the whale but also be dangerous to humans and vessels as well. It is vital to stay at least 100 yards away from whales to minimize any potential interactions,” the nonprofit Whale & Dolphin Conservation said in a statement July 25.