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Kayakers encounter unexpected visitors in Monterrey Bay

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According to Jason Hoppin of Santa Cruz Sentinel San Jose Mercury, Karen Hatch got the thrill of a lifetime when two humpback whales surfaced suddenly while she sat on her kayak in the middle of Monterey Bay. The two appeared within a few feet of her kayak and dived beneath the surface almost before she had time to react.

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The 43-year-old Santa Cruz resident, along with a companion Giancarlo Thomae, went on a whale watch but such a close encounter was beyond her expectations. She clutched the sides of her kayak believing that at any minute her boat would capsize from the turbulence caused by the giant creature. However, she remained unharmed without the slightest drop of water.

Hatch told reporters that it was incredible. It was a very humbling experience. “I was struck by how obviously sensitive and aware they are of their surroundings.” Hatch believes that the whales were within 15 feet of her kayak and deliberately avoided capsizing her. In fact, she believes they were quite playful.

Giancarlo captured the event on film. The photograph made Hatch a celebrity. CBS News online interviewed her. So did Fox News. She appeared on the front page of numerous newspapers.

“It turned out to be a fantastic day. Better then we could dream.” She told reporters that it was a stroke of luck that Giancarlo got the photo.

When asked if she would do it again, Hatch said most definitely.

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