Up-Close and Personal

Humpback whale scoops up kayakers in Avila Beach, and spits them right out


Gianni Martinez, Associate Editor-in-Chief

Imagine this: you’re sitting in the middle of Avila Beach located off the coast of California, gazing upon the beautiful waters and watching nature take it’s place. When all of a sudden your friend right across the way is scooped up by an enormous humpback whale! Yeah, true story…a whale.

Harbor officials say two women are lucky to be alive after a humpback whale capsized their kayak in Avila Beach Monday. Neither woman was seriously injured, thanks to the whale that spit them back out, however a nearby person on a paddle board helped the women back to shore. Experts say that during the fall, nutrient rich colder waters bring an explosion of krill and sardines, which migrating whales, brown pelicans, and sea lions feed on.

The survivor, Julie McSorley, who lives nearby, says she went out Sunday and took pictures of the whales and convinced her friend to go kayaking with her on Monday. They saw birds circling the area and thought something was going down, and down she went, 6 seconds under water with the humpback beast.

A video was taken and in the footage – you can hear that after McSorley was underwater, she comes up for air and says, “We’re good!” Humpback whales are considered an endangered species and marine mammal experts say they can be unpredictable and dangerous and people should keep about a football field’s worth of space between themselves and the large mammals when possible. As for the kayakers, I think they’ve learned their lesson!