Two men were out on the water spending the day fishing when they were approached by a massive whale that wouldn’t seem to leave them alone. They prepared themselves for the worst, but as the whale got closer they realized it might not be so threatening after all...
23. Fishing Trip
After a long day of catching nothing, Ivan Iskenderian and Michael Riggio decided to call it quits and head back home. They were traveling through the Middle Harbor in Sydney, Australia but little did they know they were not alone…
It wasn’t until they made their way through the harbor’s Roseville boat ramp that they started to get the feeling they weren’t alone but that someone or something was close behind…
21. It’s Moby Dick!
It didn’t take long for Iskenderian and Riggio, and all of the boats in the area, to figure out that a huge whale was trailing only inches away from their boat. This wasn’t the first time a whale was spotted in the area, but they had never gotten this close to a boat before, and they were about to find out why it was there…
20. Eye to Eye
Iskenderian told The Sydney Morning Herald that the whale, “was just hanging around, bringing his eye out of the water and looking directly at us.” The whale was so close that they could actually hear it breathing!
19. Keep it Down
The whale’s breathing was reportedly deafening, but the men were more concerned with its behavior, which seemed rather unusual. All it kept doing was popping its head in and out of the water, but after some time the men realized all it was looking for was some help.
18. Language Barrier
After a game of charades that consisted of the whale coming up to the boat and sticking its head out of the water, the men simply couldn’t figure out what the problem was until they leaned in for a closer look.
17. Close Encounter
It wasn’t so much that a whale was in the area, as they have been spotted there before—what made this encounter so strange was how close it was getting to the boat. There was a slim chance the whale was merely greeting them and therefore they needed to get to the bottom of this strange encounter!
16. Helping Hand
One of the men didn’t hesitate and rushed over to get a closer look at the whale and see what the problem was. Upon further inspection he was able to figure out what was bothering the whale.
15. You Got Something on Your Face
It turns out, the whale had a plastic bag and fishing line stuck to its mouth and was merely looking for someone with hands to get it off. In a brave—or dumb—move, the man reached out to grab the offending material…
14. Scary Stuff
Surprisingly, the whale stayed completely calm as Iskenderian reached over and grabbed the bag, a move he admits was nerve-wracking, given the unpredictability of the situation. However, his bravery and act of kindness did not go unnoticed.
13. Mission Accomplished
After Iskenderian removed the bag from the whale, it was quick to show its appreciation and began slapping its fin on the water. Apparently, this is the whale's way of showing it's calm and relaxed.
12. Distinct Features
Iskenderian likes to think that the whale slapping the water was also its way of saying thank you, especially because it looked happy and relieved to be rid of the plastic bag. Once it settled down, they noticed the white growths on its head and were able to identify it as a southern right whale.
11. Friendly Neighborhood Whale
Another way to identify a southern right whale is from all the white callosities (thickened and hardened patches of skin) that grow on them, which come from the shrimp that linger on their bodies. Don’t be surprised if one of these whales approaches your boat, as they're considered one of the more friendly and curious species out there.
10. Dying Breed
Unfortunately, whalers take advantage of that friendliness and because of that, the southern right whales population has been on the decline for years now. Thankfully, this hasn’t gone unnoticed, as a ban was put on hunting and killing them all back in 1938, though illegal whaling does still sometimes occur.
9. Temporary Solution
Although the ban has been helpful in significantly decreasing the number of whalers who actively hunt the species, not everyone takes the law that seriously. Whalers in the Soviet Union and Japan continue to hunt and kill the southern right whale, and it shows in the species' population numbers.
8. Brink of Extinction
National Geographic discovered that due to the hundreds of years of whalers going after the southern right whale, only 10,000 are left in the world. It’s a sad revelation, but on the bright side, it makes Iskenderian and Riggio’s encounter with one that much more special.
7. Anything Is Possible
No one can say definitively if the whale came to the fishermen solely for help, and even whale specialist Geoff Ross admits, “It is bizarre, really unique behavior for a wild animal, particularly for its size.” However, whales are, in general, extremely intelligent creatures, so nothing can be fully ruled out.
6. Cows of the Sea
According to Ross, southern right whales are like cows—now there’s an image!—in that they are generally a calm and happy species, but won’t hesitate to defend themselves if they feel threatened.
5. Be Kind
Basically, what Ross is trying to say, is don’t be a jerk! If you respect the animal the animal will respect you back and no one will get hurt. At the end of the day, they are majestic creatures, so if anyone ever comes across one, they should first make sure to keep a safe distance, and then sit back, relax and enjoy the show!
4. Good Deed
At the end of the day, Iskenderian and Riggio were happy with the fact that they not only got to see this whale up close, but they got to help it, too. “A couple of people were clapping… that’s my good deed done for the day,” Iskenderian said.
3. A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words
Not only did the whale show its gratitude for the help by slapping its fin on the water, but it also stuck around for a photo shoot! Both Riggio and Iskenderian were able to take selfies with the whale in the background.
2. Once in a Lifetime
Riggio was surprised by how calm the whale was throughout the entire process and even after. “I never thought I’d be that close to a whale,” Riggo said, and he made sure to immortalize the moment by taking a selfie as soon as the whale popped up out of the water.
1. Life Lesson
These two fishermen could have easily gone about their day and ignored the whale but instead they decided to be good samaritans and find a way to help. While it's true, encounters like this are extremely rare, there are still other ways to help this type of whale, and hopefully this story encourages people do what they can to help protect this majestic, intelligent species.