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Kayaker captures footage of encounter with huge whale

An experienced British kayaker has calmly watched on as a huge whale circled his vessel. See the footage here.

August 10, 2022
By Lottie Kilraine
10 August 2022

A lone kayaker has captured “thrilling” footage of a close encounter with a 30ft whale off the coast of Cornwall in England.

Rupert Kirkwood, 62, filmed as he was circled by a Minke whale for 20 minutes.

“Whales are very difficult to spot because they just roll off the surface without a splash and then they go,” Mr Kirkwood said.

“The beauty of them – which always makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck – is the noise of the blowhole.

“If I had been in a boat with an engine and not a kayak, there would have been no way I would have seen (the whale) because it guided me to it with the noise.

“The whole experience was absolutely thrilling.”

The former farm vet who has a “passion for natural history”, has been kayaking for 17 years but began dedicating most of his time to it after he took an early retirement five years ago.

Rupert Kirkwood in his kayak
Rupert Kirkwood, 62, from Holsworthy in Devon, filmed the moment he was circled by a Minke whale for 20 minutes (PA/Rupert Kirkwood)

Since he began his hobby, Kirkwood has clocked up nearly 30,000 miles of paddling and spotted around 25 whales.

“When I’m kayaking I often come across dolphins, who are quite social, and all sorts of other amazing creatures like basking sharks, giant tuna, sunfish, and even one leatherback turtle.

“I’m always thrilled to see seals and in the early mornings, otters – which are up there with my favourite creatures.”

Despite regularly coming into close contact with wild animals, Kirkwood said he has never felt threatened by them.

Rupert Kirkwood in his kayak
Rupert Kirkwood regularly posts updates on his blog called The Lone Kayaker (PA/Rupert Kirkwood)

“Even when it’s a 30ft whale that could tip me out of my kayak with a single movement, it knows I’m there and it’s in total control,” he said.

“Many of the creatures actually come towards a kayak because it breaks up the boring monotony of the sea.

“I don’t feel threatened by them at all, they always come over to have a look at me and it’s the same for the whales.

“Even when I was watching a basking shark, which can be around 25ft long and a bit more sinister, it had no interest in any bad intent.”

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