A group of outrigger canoe paddlers received the surprise of a lifetime off Maui when a humpback whale launched out of the water and clipped the front of their vessel.
They were not paddling at the time, and Laurent Lebihan happened to be videotaping as he and three other paddlers kept an eye out for whales. Then, suddenly, the humpback breached, striking the canoe with one of its pectoral fins.
"This whale blindsided us," said Lebihan, of the incident off Kehei. "We had never seen him surface or anything. We were literally looking around try to find some whales to film. We had been paddling out to an area where we thought we could see some, obviously from a good distance, because we had seen them from the shore. "While we were taking a break, and looking at our surroundings, this happened."
Federal guidelines suggest that boaters and paddlers give whales plenty of space, and it's wise for paddlers to make noise in the vicinity of whales. Every year about 10,000 humpback whales visit Hawaiian waters to breed and nurse their young.