Diver almost collides with a baby humpback as she swims with the whale

Close encounter! Diver almost collides with a baby humpback as she swims with the whale in Tahiti

  • Yanna Xian, 24, got close and personal with the whale on a trip to Moorea, Tahiti 
  • The two-week-old humpback calf seemed curious to approach the free diver 
  • As the calf gets almost nose-to-nose with the woman, her boyfriend shouts out
  • Before the whale-human meet, the calf had been seen rolling and playing alone

This is the tense moment a free diver had a close encounter and nearly collided with a baby whale. 

The footage, recorded on September 23 2021, shows a woman swimming on a whale boat tour when she is approached by a two-week-old humpback.

The curious calf swims right up close to Yanna Xian, 24, before descending into the sea.  

Yanna Xian, 24, got within touching distance of a two-week-old humpback calf on a free diving trip to Moorea, Tahiti

Because of its massive size, and the movement of the water, the baby humpback nearly pulls her with it, forcing Yanna to frantically swim upwards to keep herself from descending.

Mitch Brown, 27, who recorded his girlfriend Yanna’s close encounter, said: ‘Whales had been almost that close to us before, but they always had a clear sense of direction which was almost always away from us.

‘This one may have not seen Yanna which is why it reared it’s head before touching her.

‘As it was swimming away was the time I realised we had just created a life memory.

‘It felt like a true connection between human and whale.’

The couple booked onto a whale-spotting boat tour with Moorea Blue Water on the final day of their trip to Moorea, Tahiti last September.

Every so often, the boat would stop and they would be able to get into the water to view whales in their natural habitat.

Yanna’s boyfriend, 27-year-old Mitch Brown, described the incredible encounter as ‘a bucket list item that she didn’t even know she had’ 

Yanna had just finished emptying water out of her googles, and when she put her head back under water the baby humpback was only feet away from her

Photographer Mitch, from Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, said: ‘We love traveling and freediving in our free time, we knew Tahiti was a bucket list destination to swim with whales.

‘We were just swimming on the top of the water because we saw a mama whale and the baby whale resting at the bottom of the ocean.

‘As we calmly watch them from above the water, this curious baby whale decides to come up to check us out.’

The baby was caught on camera swimming up to the ocean’s surface and rolling about in play, before deciding to dive back down just inches from Apple Store worker Yanna.

Mitch, who also works at the Apple Store, said: ‘It was a beautiful display of respect from both of them.

‘The whale clearly didn’t want to run into Yanna and Yanna tried to swim back with her hands instead of feet to avoid kicking the whale.

As the whale descended towards the seabed, it created a downwards pull that Yanna had to swim hard against to avoid being dragged down with the cetacean

‘I was more worried the whale would unintentionally hit Yanna, and it happened so quickly that by the time I could react the whale was changing course.

‘After that we all swam to each other and showed each other videos and photos and were laughing and high-fiving.

‘We were all so stoked we got to witness that.

‘There was definitely a moment of connection between the two of them.’

Yanna was letting some water our her goggles when the whale approached, and when she put her head back underneath she saw it was right in front of her.

She did not touch the whale, but the experience left a huge impression. 

Mitch said: ‘She could not believe that she just interacted with the baby whale up close. 

‘It was definitely a bucket list item that she didn’t even know she had.’

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