H-AVILA BEACH

Aug 20, 2012 11:22 PM by Connie Tran, KSBY News

Whale sightings in Avila Beach raise questions of safety

The Avila Beach Sea Life Center said on Monday that the whales that have been roaming Avila Beach for the last week are humpback whales. It says humpbacks are known for feeding in a vertical motion, which has visitors and sightseers of Avila racing to grab a quick picture.

Rhonda Burmeister shared with KSBY her home video from Saturday of a humpback whale coming dangerously close when she went kayaking in Avila Beach. The whale was just a few feet away from her and her daughter, and her video has since gone viral. Burmeister said seeing a humpback whale that close was one of the best experiences of her life. But, Burmeister admits that her adventure to seek a whale could have ended badly as well. She said another couple near her got knocked out of the kayak because of the weight and voracity of the whale.

It's situations like that, said Port San Luis Harbor Patrol, that has them on extra high alert.

"We have a couple different boats that get out on the water and and we make sure people aren't pursuing the animal. Within the past week, we've actually had a couple of incidents where people have been knocked off of their kayaks, so we're just out there trying to keep people safe," said Harbor Patrol Officer Chris Weddle.

Weddle said they urge kayakers, swimmers, and boaters to stay at least 100-yards away from the whales, if possible. He said they try to inform everyone about the safety of being out on the water with marine life, but if people persist on getting close on purpose, they could face a hefty citation.

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