Stunning Video Shows Giant Blue Whale Racing Alongside Paddleboarder
“I still have chills,” the paddleboarder says.
A paddleboarder in Dana Point, California was overcome with excitement to find a giant blue whale swimming alongside him in the ocean. Bill Clements, a passionate devotee of studying ocean life, captured the whole incident on his GoPro camera—and if you're not affected by his emotional response to the whale, you might be a robot. "Oh my God!" Clements is heard repeatedly saying, as he laughs in disbelief. "Look at him!" Clements later said his experience with the mighty mammal was "the most incredible experience I've ever had paddling." Here's what happened.
Clements was paddleboarding near Dana Point, Orange County, when he spotted the giant blue whale swimming along barely a few feet away from him. His excitement at the encounter was palpable, and he can be heard saying, "Oh my God… oh my God… holy s—, oh my God, here he comes!" as the whale swims beside and underneath him. "He's coming up, he's coming up, oh my God, oh my God! Holy… look at the tail! There he is! He's right underneath me. He's looking at me. Oh my Lord!" Keep reading to see the video.
Clements posted the video on his Instagram account, with a caption explaining what happened. According to Clements, this was a first—and it's something he will never forget. "The most INCREDIBLE encounter I've ever had paddling!!! For over an hour I paddled with the LARGEST mammal on the planet! Blue whales are typically 70-80 feet and can weigh up to 150 tons!! Fear was overshadowed with excitement as I was in awe to be in the presence of this amazing creature. I still have chills!!"
The responses to Clements' video range from awe to envy. "My favorite part of this, which I saw on the news today, is the sheer joy in your voice as you behold this incredible beauty. Very touching actually. 🤩💛 I'm sure I would feel the same way. What a rush!!" one commenter said. "Woo Hop, what a ride! So JEALOUS," said another. "So happy for you. What an incredible encounter 👏👏," another said.
Blue whales are not aggressive to humans, which is lucky because they can weigh up to 150 tonnes. "[Blue whales] are bigger by mass than any dinosaur that we've ever had roaming this Planet," says Asha de Vos, marine biologist, ocean educator, and Pew marine fellow. "Right? And I think that's something for people to remember, because you think about it, it's such a privilege to live on this planet today side by side with historically, the biggest animal that ever lived… And I think it's a pretty special thing to hold on to and just celebrate, and remember that we have a responsibility."
"We say that there are probably about 10,000 blue whales left in the world," says de Vos. "We say that that's a very small fraction of what was there, maybe—we've probably declined our populations of whales between 70 percent to 90 percent during the whaling period. So that's a lot of animals to take out of the oceans… And I think that's a really important thing that I want everyone to know is, yes, I totally think these animals are majestic, and beautiful, and charismatic, and there's just so much mystery around them. But to care for them and to protect them for just that reason is not good enough, because I think we have to remember that they are actually what we call ecosystem engineers. Their survival is so integral to the proper functioning of the entire ecosystem."