If the baby gray whale in the accompanying video were a kitten, you'd expect it to purr.
The incredible footage was captured this past week by David Anderson during a family vacation to Magdalena Bay on Mexico's Baja California peninsula.
Intimately close encounters with gray whales in Baja's lagoons are not unusual, and gray whale calves often approach people aboard skiffs, with their mothers, and allow themselves to be touched.
But the calf that spent a full hour with the Anderson group--the footage was boiled down to three minutes--seemed to have adored the human touch more than anything else it had experienced in its brief existence. Excluding mother's milk, of course.
Anderson, who runs Capt. Dave's Dolphin and Whale Safari in Dana Point, Calif., describes this event as "one of the best encounters I have ever had with a whale in my life. And I have had many."
It is incredible, in large part, because of the whale's seemingly endless craving for human affection; the opening of its mouth and willingness to be caressed in such a vulnerable area, and the closeups of the eyes, above and below water.
At least once the calf seems to close its eyes upon being stroked on its head, as might a kitten or puppy.
What's missing, however, is the calf's mother, and how she responded to her baby's prolonged human encounter. Presumably she was nearby and simply didn't make Anderson's final editing cut.