Sunbathers treated to rare spectacle as huge humpback whale feeds right by the beach

By Hayley Pugh 

Sunbathers were treated to a rare spectacle when a huge 40-tonne whale came extraordinarily close to the beach to feed.

Beach-goers can be seen staring in disbelief as the giant humpback appears to defy logic, popping its head out of the seemingly shallow water in
Monterey Bay, California.

The whale surfaced right in front of houses and one family hired a precariously small rowing boat to get even closer to the action.

Photograph by Jodi Frediani

The spectacle was captured by photographer, Jodi Frediani, during a trip out with the Monterey Bay Whale Watch.

She said: “Imagine looking out your front window only to have the waters part and the gaping jaw of a 40-tonne whale suddenly appear.

“The power and grace is something to see. I could watch them feed like this all day long.

Photograph by Jodi Frediani

“Most of the feeding action takes place over the mile deep Monterey Submarine Canyon which runs from shore out through the middle of the bay but sometimes we get lucky and the anchovies move in close to shore.

“Several enterprising humpback whales have left the larger groups feeding out over the canyon to feast on bait balls of anchovies close in along the Santa Cruz coastline, north of the canyon.

“Because the water is so shallow and the fish so close to the surface, when the whales make their move, opening their cavernous mouths they lunge through the surface engulfing vast amounts of water filled with small fish.

“Humpback whales have no teeth. Instead, they have baleen – made of the same material as our fingernails – which filters out water and retains fish.

Photograph by Jodi Frediani

“The whales also have ventral pleats, which open like a large accordion along the underside of their jaws and belly. This enables them to engulf enormous amounts of water and food.

“As they close their mouths, water rushes out through the baleen and the fish are trapped inside.

“One of my very favourite sights is that of humpback whales lunging through the surface as they feed.

“On this occasion one father rented a skiff from the Capitola Wharf to take his daughters out for some prime whale watching. What lucky kids.”