(TMU) — Stunning footage of a gigantic whale swimming underneath a group of surfers has been captured by a high school senior off the coast of Southern California.
Video of the gigantic young 18-foot gray whale swimming underneath the surfers, who seem largely oblivious to its presence, encapsulates the allure that the Pacific coastal waters of the Golden State are known for.
The drone operator, 18-year-old Payton Landaas, caught the footage on Monday, November 11, off Doheny State Beach at Dana Point, a beach town in Orange County known for its world-class surfing, water sports, and whale watching.
Landaas told NBC News:
“It was completely surreal and so insane.”
While most of the surfers didn’t notice the mammoth creature swimming below them, 11-year-old Liam Lawless of San Diego was shocked when he saw the white creature, which he mistook for a shark.
The young surfer told the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
“All I know is it was big, and it was coming right for me.”
At roughly the 47-second mark, Lawless can be seen frantically paddling away from the whale after it flicked its tail while swimming among the surfers. Lawless explained:
“I saw the tail and I was like ‘shark.’
That’s when I got on my board and started paddling as fast as I could.”
Another surfer seems to look over at the whale but seemed unbothered by the massive creature, which typically poses zero harm to its land-loving mammalian neighbors.
Liam’s father, Michael Lawless, was surprised by the composure of the surfers:
“If it’s a whale, you’re going to scream. Even if it’s a dolphin, or seal … no one said a word, which was the weirdest thing.”
Landaas, a senior at San Juan Hills High School in San Juan Capistrano, which lies south of Los Angeles, has been basking in the fame he’s garnered from the video.
The young videographer, who is keen on using his drone over the ocean to capture images of dolphins, sharks, seals, and sailboats, has been contacted by media outlets across the world as his video continues to gain exposure online and on television. As of Monday afternoon, the video has over 368,000 views on YouTube.
The 18-year-old said:
“It’s been insane, crazy. I didn’t realize it would go this far, but it’s still going.
Most of my mom’s friends are emailing and messaging, all our relatives from Georgia and New York. It’s all over the place.”
Commenters were thrilled by the footage. One user said:
“You have made a million hearts beat faster … just beyond words.”
Another user commented that Landaas had “hit the nature lottery.”
Landaas recently started a drone video company called Stealth Photos. He hopes that he can make some good money if anyone wants to use the video for broadcast or commercial purposes.
“Honestly, it doesn’t feel real yet.
I keep pinching myself.”
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