Kayaker creates Internet sensation, filming whales up close and underwater off Redondo’s King Harbor
Garden Grove resident Rick Coleman captured a video of a blue whale from his kayak, and from underwater recently while paddling off of Palos Verdes with his wife Susan. The video has become a Youtube sensation capturing almost 1,000,000 views in just 14 days.
“We got lucky and got a couple shots of whales cooperating and got some great whale footage,” said Rick.
Rick and his wife have been kayaking from Redondo Beach’s King Harbor almost every weekend since the blue whales have started traveling through the Redondo Canyon almost two months ago and have only missed seeing the mammals once during their recent trips out to sea.
“My wife and I started getting addicted,” said Rick. “We love the ocean and love scuba-diving. We wanted to take advantage of this rare opportunity to see the whales. “
Last year was the first year in a long time that the blue whales graced Redondo waters. The Coleman family had been privy to the whale watching experience then, and wanted to see them closer this year.
“After our first encounter we were blown away and after that we just wanted more. We couldn’t get enough,” said Susan. “We wanted to make sure we picked the opportunity this year too. We heard they were out there and went each weekend. Some weekends we didn’t see any but it was amazing that he was able to catch it all on video for our best encounter.”
They bought a GoPro camera, a camera used for many extreme sports that is also waterproof, and mounted it to Rick’s head while he was kayaking.
“I just had it on the headband, then secured it with a scuba hood,” Rick said.
Recently, the whales have been spotted as close as three to five miles off shore.
“That day we paddled straight out about four miles, then went south a little bit and didn’t see any sign of life,” said Rick. “We started paddling in and all of a sudden heard a whale behind me and turned on my camera and it did the lounge feeding by the kayak. We were lucky because not only did it happen, but I caught it on film.”
The video features a blue whale feeding directly to the left of his kayak. At one point while shooting the video he even gets in the water and films the whale from below.
“They were pretty consistent throughout the day,” said Rick. “I had been hoping the opportunity would present itself for some underwater footage and thought it would be super difficult. Suddenly, I had a whale surface next to me and it immediately felt right and relaxed and I jumped in.”
At one point, Rick turns towards the camera and lets out a loud “whoo hoo!” expressing his excitement at the experience. It cuts out to his yellow kayak, slicing through the still waters. In the distance, a whale tail is seen slipping into the water. His camera moves quickly into the water with his body, and the whale that was seen submerging is seen underwater plunging through the deep blue water into the darkness of the canyon.
“The second one kind of eased itself in my direction and I made a point of looking it in the eye,” Rick said.
As Rick was getting front-row footage, his wife was having her own close encounters.
“It’s just kind of ‘wow’,” said Susan. “You’re there and your whole being just senses the harmony of it. A lot of people think, ‘aren’t you afraid?’ and I didn’t feel fear. It’s just like this exhilaration and adrenalin. It’s kind of hard to describe.”
His video has been featured across the world on newscasts, and online, posted over and over on Facebook and sent through emails across the globe. At the moment, the video has close to 1,000,000 views.
“It’s amazing for something that I thought would be difficult to pull off that lightening struck twice,” Rick said.