Mike: I bet the Risso's knows exactly where you are and the humpbacks have no idea kayaks are around.
Well, my experience is that humpies know exactly where you and your kayak/SUP/board are.
Last October we were out in a sea kayak with a group from REI. Marine layer was coming in, so we were discusing turning back and paddling Elkhorn Slough.
Suddenly our kayak was hit by something--and lifted a good 4 feet into the air! I was in the stern trying to keep us from flipping, and looked over the side to see the backs of TWO humpbacks (a momma and baby) as they dropped into the well below us.
We'd just righted ourselves (amazingly we didn't dump), when 15 feet away, the mom did a couple of vigorous tail slaps. Everything points to the fact that those whales knew what they were doing...had she done those slaps any closer, we would have been smashed. And truthfully, they took us up and let us down with what can only be described as "gentleness".
The 3 REI guides and half the participants were rightfully envious...it was a remarkable experience (yes, I had been praying to Neptune for it!) and we didn't even get soaked.
wish i had known about this thread earlier, spent the last 3 years as the captain of a whale watching boat. ive deleted thooooousands of pictures thinking "meh, ill always take more..."
here is a whale story.
North American Transient Killer Whales hunt the calves of other, larger whales (notably gray whales). Every spring, while gray whale mothers escort their newborns up from Baja to Alaska, hundreds of young fall prey to the orca (whose scientific name translates to "Demon From Hell.")
One spring we found ourselves marveling at a hunt, while a dozen orcas swarmed a mother gray who tried desperately to protect her newborn. They ram, they bite: they succeed in drowning the calf. At this point, the killer whales turn their attention to the mother, and harass her until she gives up.
Grieving mother makes a turn for our boat, which is situated 100 yards away as reccomended by the coast guard and NOAA. She swims as if to pass within ten or fifteen feet which is the case sometimes as humpbacks and grays will sometimes use the boat to delicately scratch their backsides. I've had hundreds of grays, humpbacks, and blue whales swim within petting distance of the boat (on their own volition) and thus thought nothing was amiss... until the mother rolled on her side, wound up her tail, and delivered a nasty blow the the stern.
BAM. Everyone stumbles.
"Shit!" I said aloud as the gray swims off
I check all compartments, and find that the only damage is to the rudder posts. The half inch brass keyway that locks the post to the armiture is sheared fully, hence the rudder is doomed to limp freely until i can slide a new keyway into the slot.
No matter: with a second rudder and two engines, steering and parking the boat is still trivial.
I've since heard other stories of gray whale (females) aggressively charging bystanding boats after having lost their babies to killer whales.