Whale watching off of the California coast is a popular activity for locals and tourists alike. But sometimes the whales can get a little too close for comfort. Take, for example, the case when a humpback whale breached so close to a pair of kayakers that it appeared to swallow them whole.
@alexisarce4 A HUMPBACK WHALE SWALLOWS TWO GIRLS INCaliforniaIn #USA, off the coast of California, two girls sailing in #kayak almost become the lunch of a humpback whale that was hunting a bank of Fish.But the animal didn't like people and after a few seconds he spat them out. #whale #fyp #california ♬ original sound – Alexis Arce
The footage has seen a recent surge in interest on TikTok, but, like many TikTok videos, it dates back to before the app was so ubiquitous, according to Snopes. The first instances of the video making the rounds on social media came shortly after it happened in November 2020. A video posted on Twitter that month (which itself was a repost of an earlier TikTok) that now has nearly 2 million views came with the accompanying caption of “Yo a whale really ate this lady.”
That is indeed what appears to happen. However, a 2020 CNN story right after the event clarified it didn’t quite go down like the whale swallowings in the Book of Jonah or Moby Dick or Pinnochio or any of the other many stories humans have told about being swallowed by a whale over the centuries.
The kayakers in the video, Julie McSorley and Liz Cottriel, had paddled off the coast of California’s Avila Beach to watch the migratory humpbacks. McSorley told CNN that they were flipped after a humpback chasing a group of fish breached too close. Both were unhurt from the incident.
In fact, it’s actually impossible for a humpback whale to swallow a human. The animal’s mouth can be up to 10 feet long, according to National Geographic, but its throat can only stretch to about 15 inches. Humpbacks subsist on krill, after all.
While no one was injured and the whale wouldn’t (and couldn’t) actually eat a person, the massive animals can still be dangerous if you get to close. Consider this a friendly reminder to always respect wild animals from a safe distance.