An encounter with curious whales has left a stand-up paddle boarder with an “unbelievable” experience.
When Ant Little took to the water off Tathra Beach on Saturday, he had no idea he would get close to two of the creatures.
Luckily, he managed to film footage of the incident on his GoPro.
The breathtaking footage shows whales swimming within metres of his board, at one point almost swimming eye to eye with the camera.
“They took a liking to my board and kept circling around,” Mr Little said.
“It was just the next level, it was just exhilarating.”
Around midday Mr Little left work at Fat Tony’s Bar and Grill for his usual lunchtime paddle, but when he got on the water he saw a female southern right whale and her calf close to the beach in the shallow water.
He watched them for a while from a reasonable distance away, but when he started paddling back to the beach two more of the whales appeared and swam towards him.
One of those whales took a liking to him in particular, a younger one which he estimated to be three quarters grown, which continued to swim around him for about 20 minutes as he drifted in the breeze, even popping its head out of the water for a better look.
“I was talking to it like a mad person,” Mr Little laughed.
“It was just so big, but maneuverable. They obviously know their space.
“The whale was basically playing with me.”
He said it was hard to describe how he felt after the experience, but thought it was “unbelievable”.
“You think ‘whoa, this is a big animal and it’s really close’, and I was a little bit nervous every time the tail whacked the water,” he said.
“I was close enough to see the eyes, the blowhole hole opening and shutting.”
Mr Little is no stranger to incredible encounters while on an SUP at sea, saying he sees whales “frequently enough”.
“But not to the extent where they come and interact with you with 15 to 20 minutes,” he said.
A couple of weeks ago he saw one off Nelson Beach and two years ago he was surprised by a whale that came close to his board when he was off Tathra Beach, also managing to film that incident.