When YouTuber Brad Rich set off fishing in the waters off the Alaskan coast, he was completely unprepared for the spectacle that awaited.

There had been rumours of a group of humpbacks feeding in the area, but after spending some time on the water, Rich assumed the filter feeders had moved on – that's until he heard something over the low rumble of the boat. Whale song.

In a flash, the behemoths appeared just metres away, triggering an overexcited outburst from Rich and the rest of his crew. "We were in neutral at the time, and reversed as soon as they popped up," he explains. The Marine Mammal Protection Act prevents boats from getting too close to whales in the US, and it seems this responsible fisherman knew it was time to back off.

"I was happy to have the experience, and am even happier to be able to share it," he says. Still mesmerised by the once-in-a-lifetime encounter, he captured a second video moments later as the whales departed.

Top header image: Sandy/Chuck Harris/Flickr