Home News Whale Swallows 2 People Whole

Whale Swallows 2 People Whole

by Ivy June

A shocking video that was recorded off the California coast years ago has resurfaced on social media. Filmed in November 2020, the short clip shows the hair-raising moment when a large humpback whale nearly swallowed two kayakers whole. 

The two kayakers, Julie McSorley and Liz Cottriel, were paddling a tandem kayak together in San Luis Obispo Bay when they unintentionally became the stars of the viral video. Their boat was one of several that had drifted out beyond the surf where a group of humpback whales were feeding on the surface. 

 
 
 
 
 
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The video, which was recorded by another whale-watcher on a different vessel, shows Cottriel, McSorley, and the other boaters looking on as the humpbacks breach the surface to gorge on balls of baitfish. 

Cottriel and McSorley suddenly find themselves in the middle of all this bait as a whale breaks the surface directly underneath them, its giant mouth agape. The whale appears to swallow the kayak whole before it closes its mouth and falls back into the ocean. 

As the water settles, however, the overturned kayak and the two uninjured paddlers can be seen floating on the surface. Because of the angle of the video, it’s unclear how long the kayakers were in the whale’s mouth—or if they were even swallowed at all.

“I thought it was going to land on me,” Cottriel told reporters after the incident. “Next thing I know I’m underwater.”

McSorley explained that all she felt was the boat rising before she found herself submerged. She could never tell if she was under the whale, in its mouth, or what actually occurred during those few fleeting moments.

“They were telling us, ‘You were in the mouth, you were in the whale’s mouth!’” McSorley said. “But we didn’t have any idea at that time. And it didn’t really hit us until we watched the video later.”

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