Kayaker still amazed by beluga whale experience

Cory Hurley cory.hurley@tc.tc
Published on July 15, 2014

Megan Greening is used to companionship when she takes to the water in her kayak, but nothing like the friendliness she encountered Sunday.

The Baie Verte woman had heard about the beluga whale hanging around the shores of the nearby community of Middle Arm in recent weeks. The tales of the friendly little whale, and the Facebook attention it was getting, was enough for her to gather a few friends and look for an adventure.

Although her kayaking endeavours are normally reserved for still beauty, like icebergs, Greening said there was no hesitation about sharing the harbour with the jovial beluga whale.

“The way I looked at it, the worst possibility was I would fall in the water,” she said. “There were so many boats around and I was right off shore that I would just get aboard a boat or swim to shore.”

After observing the scene for a few minutes, she knew there was nothing to worry about. The beluga appeared gentle despite the boats in the area and human attention it was receiving. She set out — along with friends Natasha Upward, Cody Reid and Tristen Knight — to join the scene.

“I knew he was not aggressive and would not harm anybody,” Greening said. “I felt pretty safe.”

It was a wise choice for the paramedic. The whale seemed to relish the company of the kayakers, according to Greening, playfully swimming in and around the boats.

“Amazing — it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she said. “Once, I was paddling around, and he came up and put his belly to the bottom of the kayak and just chased me. It was something like he would do with his mother. That was an amazing experience.”

With a few taps on the water, the whale would surface alongside them and lay his head on the kayak to be touched.

“He would just stay there,” she said. “Like he didn’t want to move, just loving the attention.”

The whale is about seven or eight feet, Greening estimates, only just over half the length of her kayak. She also noticed some “battle scars” on the sea mammal, also known as white whale, and recognized for its melon-shaped head and high-pitched twitter. She figured the wounds were from getting too close to boat propellers.

It was easy to hear her sympathy for the whale that had brought such joy to her and her friends for a couple of hours, and memories that will last forever.

“I couldn’t get over how gentle he was,” she said. “There are no words to describe how amazing it felt. Pictures say a thousand words.”