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Kayakers nearly swallowed by whale in California recount their shocking experience

A video from 2020 has gone viral again of two women engulfed in a whale’s mouth after kayaking in their feeding zone in San Luis Obispo Bay in California.

Kayakers nearly swallowed by whale in California recount their shocking experience

In November 2020, two women, Julie McSorely and Liz Cottriel went kayaking off Avila beach to watch the humpback whales feed on silverfish, but came just a little too close. A video, shot by another kayaker Sam McMillan, captured the moment the whale breached the surface and engulfed the women’s kayak and the two women in its mouth.

The end of the video cuts off after the women appear to be swallowed by the whale, showing only their kayak floating in the water, but no sign of the women. However, both women came up to the surface after the video cut off, shocked, but completely unharmed. Humpback whales do not intentionally eat people - the women were just a bit too close to the bait bail of fish the whale did want to eat.

McSorely had gone out to watch the humpbacks feed before, but Cottriel was hesitant to come along, telling her friend, “No, I don’t like the ocean. I’m scared of sharks. I’m scared of anything I can’t see in the water.” Mcsorely convinced her, and we bet Cottriel will never ignore her instincts again!

“Next thing I know, I’m under water”

When it happened, the women said neither of them realized they may have actually been swallowed.

“All of a sudden the boat lifted up and we were dumped in the water very, very quickly,” said McSorely.

Cottriel said she saw the inside of the whale’s mouth, but thought it was its belly and threw up her hand.

“I’m thinking to myself, ‘I’m going to push. Like, I’m going to push a whale out of the way. It was the weirdest thought,” Cottriel said at the time. “I’m thinking, ‘I’m dead. I’m dead.’ I thought it was going land on me. Next thing I know, I’m under water.”

“Once we were in the water, we didn’t know where we were - if we were under the whale, if we were sucked down with the whales,” said McSorely. “So both of us...ended up popping up right next to the kayak and next to each other. It was crazy.”


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