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A giant calf almost collided with a freediver in Tahiti


Yanna Xian will probably never forget the close call she had with a baby humpback whale.

Xian, 24, had traveled to Tahiti with her boyfriend Mitch Brown, 27, in September 2021, where the couple decided to take a whale-watching excursion, reports the South West News Service (SWNS).

Brown told the UK News Agency that he and Xian had experience with snorkeling, which they did in their hometown of Honolulu. They didn’t expect a two week old calf to swim to Xian, who was cleaning his glasses above the surface at the time.

In an underwater video captured by Brown, you can see Xian barely dodging the calf which is several times his size.

“The whales were almost as close to us before, but they still had a clear sense of direction that was almost always far away from us,” Brown reminded SWNS of their trip to Moorea, Tahiti. “This one maybe didn’t see Yanna that’s why he raised his head before touching her. As he was swimming, I realized that we had just created a memory of life. “

Yanna Xian, 24, and her boyfriend Mitch Brown, 27.
Mitch Brown / SWNS

During their tour, Xian and Brown had spotted the calf and its mother resting near the ocean floor.

Xian told Fox News Digital that this was their first time sharing water with humpback whales. At one point, the curious calf swam to their level as she tried to mimic his movements with her hands. The whale had stayed at a distance by this time.

“I think the baby whale was definitely curious about everything. As the whale approached, I was repairing my mask since the water had entered it, and when I put my head back under the water, the whale was right in front of me, ”Xian recalls. “All I’ve heard is my name. I was worried that everyone would yell at me after the whale moved away, but it is clear from the video that I did everything right at that point. All I could think of at the time was not to touch the whale and get out of the way. The gentle giant was very kind and tried to avoid me ”

“The whale clearly didn’t want to run into Yanna,” Brown told SWNS. “And Yanna tried to swim backwards with her hands instead of her feet to avoid kicking the whale.” I was more worried that the whale would hit Yanna unintentionally.

He continued, “It happened so quickly that the moment I could react, the whale would change course.”

Upon reviewing the video and photos they captured, Brown said, “We were all so thrilled that we got to witness it.”

Xian, on the other hand, thinks the calf’s swimming up to her could have had a deeper meaning.

Humpback calves can grow up to 16 feet long at birth.
Humpback calves can grow up to 16 feet long at birth.
Mitch Brown / SWNS

“There was definitely a moment of connection between the baby and me,” Xian told Fox. “I couldn’t believe I had just interacted with the baby whale up close. It was definitely an item on the bucket list that I didn’t even know I had.

Whale swimming tours are a popular tourist attraction in Tahiti. Regulated excursions allow travelers to create lasting memories with humpback whales and other aquatic mammals in their natural habitat, the Tahiti tourism website says.

French Polynesia is also home to pilot whales, hard-toothed dolphins, long-beaked dolphins and many species of sharks and rays. Newborn humpback whales can be up to 16 feet long, according to Live Science.

Swimming with humpback whales is not permitted in Hawaii, as federal law requires people to stay at least 100 yards from the species while in Hawaiian waters. This includes boaters, swimmers and surfers, according to the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources.

In a follow-up message to Fox, Xian wrote, “It is always important to know that you never want to touch or chase after a whale or any other marine life. Be attentive and respectful to these marine lives because they are very precious. Please educate yourself first and if you are looking to discover and learn more about them in their natural habitat, be sure to go with those who are educated and well experienced.

New York Post

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