A woman relaxing on an inner tube off the coast of Truro got quite a surprise when she was joined by three humpback whales.
“The only thing I was thinking was, ‘Get back in the boat,’” said Carina Shane.
Shane was whale-watching on her friend’s boat Saturday a half-mile off the coast of Truro when she decided to take a dip.
“It was so hot out, so I decided I’d just have to go in,” she said.
Before long, Shane had some unexpected company.
“I turned and it was three of them coming at me and I panicked,” she said. “I was crazy scared.”
Shane said she arrived in Massachusetts in the beginning of July for business, but was visiting her friend in Provincetown for the weekend. Shane has since returned to her home country, Sweden, where she was interviewed by telephone today.
Shane said she saw whales all day Saturday but that none of them came close to the boat. She thought if she floated in a tube near the boat, the whales would keep their distance from her as well.
Shane remembers hearing screams from her friends to get out of the water and did so as quickly as possible.
“Once I was back in the boat, we were laughing about it,” she said. “We were having fun with it because nothing happened.”
Shane, however, is lucky. Her friend Lois Petti, who was in her own boat nearby, quickly grabbed her camera and started shooting, documenting Shane’s experience.
“When I saw the whales come out, I was a little freaked out. The whales were so close to her,’’ Petti said in a telephone interview from her home in Truro. “I just grabbed [the camera] it and started shooting and screamed, ‘Get out of the water!’”
Petti said Shane got out of the water and the whales soon disappeared.
“It was hysterical, in a way, and quite frightening,” she said.
Petti remembers seeing whales earlier in the day, but said they were fairly far away from where her boat was floating.
“These whales kind of literally appeared,” she said. “We were taken by surprise, but I don’t think anyone thought there would be any harm.”
She said she was happy that Shane was OK, but also happy she had her camera nearby.
This is the second year Petti has had her own boat. She said she goes fishing every weekend.
“The wildlife is in abundance,” she said, and recalled seeing lots of whales and seals. “But I’m not looking forward of seeing any sharks.”
Charles “Stormy” Mayo, senior scientist at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, said humpback whales are the primary species that people go whale-watching for, a big industry in Cape Cod, and they are relatively common.
“They are a listed endangered species,” he said. “So although they’re common there, they’re not common around the rest of the world.”
Mayo pointed out that it is illegal to swim with whales.
“A very strong federal guideline, that’s actually for the whales’ sake, requires people to stand off more than 100 yards away from the animals,” he said. “If one sneaks up on you I suppose you haven’t got a choice.”
Mayo said the large mammals average 45 to 50 feet long and can weigh up to 40 tons.
“My view is generally that these are not animals that are likely to run people down or attack,” he said, but that people should always be careful when dealing with big animals in their environment.
Judging by the photo, Mayo said it looks like the boats were pretty far off shore.
“These are people swimming around in waters that can be 200 feet deep,” he said. “If something weird were to happen, it’s not a good place to be.”Melissa Werthmann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.