Extreme athletes lead an existence of sacrifice and sloggin’ it. But sometimes, they’re rewarded with an almost otherworldly encounter. This new video is one of them – of a gray whale that surfaces just inches from a paddle boarder off California.

It’s brief, it’s intense, and a rather powerful bitch-slap of a reminder that we’re just visitors in the ocean.

A Gray Whale of an Encounter…

The video shows paddle boarder Derek Savoie chilling off the coastline of Leo Carrillo State Park in Malibu, California. Savoie was sitting in a kelp bed when he noticed a pod of gray whales coming his way. That’s when the unexpected happened, and a gray whale surfaced inches from Savoie, in a brief encounter that probably fulfills his WTF! moment quota for the next 50 years.

It’s a gray whale all right – all 45+ feet and 40 tons of it – just inches from Savoie, who probably wasn’t expecting that to happen.

The look on his face pretty much sums up the encounter. And, granted, while it may not make our top hits of whales gone wild, it’s a special moment, and one that at least one paddle boarder will remember forever off the coast of California.

Not The First Time

Of course, spend any time on this blog and you may recall we’ve seen other strange encounters between paddle boarders and marine life. Head just 25 miles to the south and you’re at Manhattan Beach, where you might have another encounter – albeit of the intense variety.

Manhattan Beach, and nearby Huntington Beach, have been a hot spot in recent years of encounters between paddle boarders and great white sharks.

And that may jog your memory of yet another wild encounter – this one between a snorkeler and great white shark off western Australia, who spent the better part of 20 minutes checking out Ash Gibb in December.

It’s their ocean – we’re just visitors. But sometimes, the locals like to say hello, and learn more about those weird-looking two-legged creatures with a strange addiction to some thing called a ‘GoPro‘.

Enjoy the video!