Kayaker has stunning close encounter with humpback whales in Half Moon Bay

by: Maggie Wilson Updated:

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HALF MOON BAY, Calif. - A kayaker had a stunning close encounter with humpback whales Sunday afternoon in Half Moon Bay, California.

Eddy Willis was out kayaking when he encountered the whales, lunge feeding. It was a foggy day; he describes the whales he met as “gentle.”

He says he wasn’t fearful. “To me, I love whales, I love sharks. … It’s an adrenaline rush more than anything.”

Willis is on a coastal tour -- fishing from the ocean somewhere new every day.

He was born in California and lives now in Nevada, working for the Department of Wildlife.

He says he’s currently trying to set a record for the most lingcod fish caught from a kayak. Lingcod fish “look prehistoric,” Willis said.

He catches, tags and releases the lingcod. He says he’s ever-more “conservation-conscious” since starting work with Nevada’s wildlife department.

As a boy, he often went canoeing and was in the Boy Scouts.

Willis has had many close encounters with whales like the one filmed this week.

Last summer in Monterey Bay, he says he couldn’t be out on the water without running into whales.

Once while out “fishing and drifting around,” a grey whale calf suddenly popped up near him. He’s also seen a blue whale up close.

Willis paddled back, closer to the shore Sunday afternoon after his stunning encounter. He joined his buddy, Jim, and Jim’s dog, 'Sam the sea dog.'

They sat in their kayaks on the water together and watched the whales from farther back.