A video by adventure tourism operator Nick Templeman shows a humpback whale directly beneath his boat.

A video by adventure tourism operator Nick Templeman shows a humpback whale directly beneath his boat.

VIDEO: Humpback rubs against whale-watching boat

Tourism operator describes astonishing encounter

Whale watchers had a rare encounter with a particularly friendly humpback whale on the B.C. coast on Sunday. Cellphone video shows the massive creature rubbing its belly against the hull of an adventure tourism boat.

The footage was captured by Nick Templeman, who runs Campbell River Whale and Bear Excursions.

“It’s definitely not a common occurrence,” said Templeman. “It gave me a new appreciation for humpback whales.”

The events unfolded about two miles from Mitlenatch Island, southeast of Campbell River, where several tour companies were observing the humpback.

They retreated as the whale came closer. But realizing that the immense whale was in the immediate vicinity of his boat, Templeman shut down its motor for safety.

Moments later, it was directly underneath.

In the video, Templeman can be heard exclaiming: “He’s right under the boat! He’s rubbing the hull!”

The whale goes on to frolic in the nearby waters. The passengers were evidently astonished.

“This is insane,” someone says. “He’s so friendly.”

The immense sea creature appears to enjoy the attention, despite the barking of Templeman’s dog, a Siberian husky named Yukon.

At one point in the video, the humpback sprays Templeman with water from its blowhole, prompting him to say “the whole boat needs a shower.”

Templeman later saidthat the Sunday encounter was a rare experience known as a “mugging.” It’s a term applied to humpbacks when they “start checking the boat out, and sorta being friendly towards the boat.”

That includes “spyhopping,” when a whale sticks its head vertically from the water, likely to get a better view.

“They have quite an amazing large eye,” said Templeman. “They’re very aware of their surroundings, and they’ll spin around with that eye and have a look at you. It’s quite surreal.”

The whale also performed a series of rolls, showing off its large pectoral fins.

The whole encounter lasted about 90 minutes, said Templeman.

“Every time I thought about putting the engines back on, that whale was back under the boat,” he said.

Finally, the whale expelled a “nice big red pile of big krill poop,” he said, and then “made one complete turn of the boat, had one more spyhop,” rolled off the bow and flourished its tail, before disappearing into the deep.

Later, a friend of Templeman’s identified the whale.

It turns out this particular creature, which normally swims in waters further south, is known for frequent muggings.

“He is a notorious boat mugger,” said Templeman. “This particular whale has a reputation.”

He added that although the whale was touching the hull, it didn’t cause the boat to rock. The effect was barely discernible for the passengers, he said.

Asked if he felt unsafe, he said “not at all.”

The tourism operator, whose career spans more than 20 years, said that encounters with whales are becoming more common, possibly due to a resurgence in whale populations and ample food supplies in local waters.

“I think it’s something we should all start getting used to,” he said.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Health authority opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

Eliot Kinsey runs T3ch For the People at Ladysmith Secondary. (Jennifer Fink photo)
High school student joins program to improve access to technology

By George Brockhurst, LSS Student Writer As the world moves forward, people… Continue reading

Lymphedema is often treated with medical devices such as compression garments, pneumatic compression pumps, or specialized custom wraps and bandages. (Submitted photo)
March 6 marks World Lymphedema Day

Lymphedema is caused by damage to the lymphatic system, and afflictings millions worldwide

Work has begun on the Downtown Public Washroom on 1st Avenue. (Submitted photo)
Work has begun on the Ladysmith Downtown Public Washroom

The project is expected to be finished in the spring

An architectural rendering of the five storey condo building at 201/203 Dogwood Drive. (BJK Architecture photo)
Five storey condo building proposal at Dalby’s proceeds to public hearing stage

Frank and Mike Crucil of FMC Holdings are hoping to turn Dalby’s Automotive into a five storey condo

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Most Read