By Leo Black via SWNS
This hair-raising footage shows the moment a diving group had a once-in-a-lifetime close encounter with a curious, 30-foot humpback whale.
Professional diver Kayleigh Grants filmed the huge mammal swimming between the divers and breaching the surface, with its pectoral fins passing inches away from her.
The whale stayed with the divers for nearly an hour before parting, and remained so close to the group, they were forced to avoid its huge fins as it moved around them.
Kayleigh, from Kona, Hawaii, said that while whales do not mean any harm to humans, these encounters are still dangerous due to their sheer size.
She said: "You have to be cautious, just because of their size even a swipe of the tail fin could be dangerous to a human."
Encounters like this are very rare, and have only happened to Kayleigh a handful of times in her decade-long career as a diver.
She added: "We have seasons with whales. They're not around all the time like sharks, so maybe you'll get lucky like this once a year if you're a diver.
"If you're a regular person it's extremely lucky, a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience."
This behavior is only found in juveniles, who have been recently separated from their mothers, and remain curious and playful with humans compared to adult whales.
Layleigh said: "It was really really beautiful. It's strange that an animal like that is conscious of their body and approaching in play and curiosity.
"It really is pretty rare that they will take interest like that. Tt stayed with us for an hour or more, it seemed quite playful and rambunctious.
"It's only happened to me a handful of times and I've had hundreds of whale encounters.
"It's like babysitting a 40-ton animal. They really do have the playful nature of a toddler of any species, even a human toddler."
The footage was filmed off the coast of French Polynesia in September 2022.
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