Jet-ski rider nudged by whale in magical ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ encounter

Jet-ski rider nudged by whale in magical ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ encounter

Outdoors

Jet-ski rider nudged by whale in magical ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ encounter

When Tim Swift spotted a large southern right whale while riding his personal watercraft Monday, he killed the engine and marveled at what transpired next.

The 40- to 50-foot leviathan became curious about Swift and swam up and nudged his PWC in a manner so delicate that the vessel did not even move.

“I could have reached out and touched it,” Swift, who was exploring off Dunsborough, Australia, said in a 9 News Perth video report. (9 News incorrectly identified the mammal as a humpback whale.)

The Perth grandfather spent the next hour in close company of the whale, which repeatedly surfaced only yards away.

The whale’s breath, Swift joked, “smelled like an old fish-and-chips shop.”

Southern right whales are famously curious about boaters. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Overall, Swift described the encounter as “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” and added:

“I mean it makes everything else pale into insignificance. This connection we had was just amazing.”

(It’s noted in the 9 News report that Swift acted correctly by turning off his engine with the whale so close, and allowing the encounter to play out on the whale’s terms.)

Southern right whale nudges jet ski in video screen grab

Southern right whales spend their summers feeding off Antarctica, and in winter months they’re found off the southern continents.

Their population numbers about 10,000. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists southern right whales as a species of “least concern.”

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