Right lane, left lane – when it comes to passing vehicles, the rules of the road are pretty clear. But if the object undertaking you is a 40-ton gray whale, things can get a little sketchy. 

Paddleboarder Derek Savoie had no intention of touching this whale – in fact, he did everything he could to dodge the animal. 

Savoie had been boarding off the coast of Malibu when he noticed the whale's blow in the distance. Determined to get out of the way, he swam over to a kelp bed where he planned to wait until the giant passed by. The whale, however, had other plans.

"You should never approach these beautiful mammals in the wild," Savoie clarified on YouTube. "This gray whale either didn't see me sitting in the kelp, or was just very curious and came up to check me out. Luckily I had my GoPro on. My foot dangling in the water even made contact with his/her head!"

Savoie didn't intentionally touch the whale, which is a good thing: doing so can land you hefty fines in the US. When it comes to encounters with these marine mammals, it's always best to stay at least 100 yards away. 

With any luck, local residents will be able to spot the ocean giants from shore in the coming months as they migrate up the coastline to warmer waters. 

"[This was a] mind-blowing experience and one I will never forget," says Savoie. 


Top header image: Gilad Rom/Flickr