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Both of the paddlers swam away from their incredible encounter unscathed

By Kelli Bender
Updated September 16, 2015 06:57 PM
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Thar she blows — and without much warning.

Two kayakers got stuck in the middle of a startling surprise in Monterey Bay, California. According to The Telegraph, British tourists, Tom Muskill and Charlotte Kinloch, were paddling in the early morning water hoping to spot a group of migrating humpback whales, when one of the giant creatures landed right on top of them.

“We had an amazing couple of hours and we were heading home. There were whales on the surface that we were watching, but we didn’t see this one; when a whale breaches you don’t see it on the surface because it has to get momentum from quite deep down.” Muskill, a wildlife flilmmaker, told the paper. “Then we saw it. It was above us and all I could see was this whale crashing towards us, blocking out the light. I thought, ‘Oh, I’m going to die now.’”

The terrifying moment the 40-ton whale crashed on top of the pair was captured on video by Larry Plants, a rider on a nearby Sanctuary Cruises whale tour. Miraculously, both of the visiting kayakers, who were wearing life vests, swam away from the collision unharmed. The only evidence left behind by the massive impact is a small dent on the bow of Muskill and Kinloch’s boat.

Muskill says the powerful sensation of being crushed by a whale is comparable to “being in an avalanche” or “going over a waterfall but underwater,” and that he is still trying to comprehend how he came out of the encounter alive.

“The weirdest part was paddling back to shore, because it simply seemed very unreal,” he said. “We had gone from our lives almost ending to just feeling a bit cold and confused. It was very disconcerting getting back to land because there were people parking their cars, getting a coffee – we just thought nobody was going to believe this happened.”

Thanks to Plants video, millions of people now know about the pair’s harrowing experience. The clip of the crashing whale has became an Internet hit. Both Muskill and Kinloch are still a little shaken by the incident and their resulting online fame, but they say this scare won’t keep them out of the water.