(NEW YORK) — One dad and his two little boating buddies had an unexpected visitor drop by their fishing trip Saturday when a whale breached and splashed down just feet away from their boat.
“It’s definitely one of the most incredible things I’ve witnessed in my life,” Chris Curran of Darien, Connecticut told ABC News. “I’ve been on a high all week.
“The boys — they can’t stop talking or thinking about it. They saw something they’ll never forget.”
Curran said it was around noon on Sept. 19 when he took his son Hugh and Hugh’s friend Henry on his boat for a fishing trip to celebrate Henry’s ninth birthday.
“I blasted out full speed and we came onto some birds diving for minnows, which we thought were albacore,” he said. “I’d never seen this healthy of an ecosystem in the [Long Island] sound before. There was bait fish, blue fish [and] albacore.”
Only five minutes into their trip, Curran said Hugh and Henry began shouting that they saw something in the water.
“The two boys were going crazy and said ‘We saw a killer whale. We saw an orca'” Curran said, laughing. “I said ‘Guys, I don’t think there’s been a whale here in 100 years.”
Chris Curran was fishing with his 8-year-old son and his friend when a whale appeared next to their boat.
After missing the initial encounter, Curran said he began filming the water’s surface with his cellphone, in hopes that the creature would emerge again.
Minutes later, the whale reappeared.
“It showed it’s whole body and the tail went down,” Curran said. “It did that a couple of times and thought it might be breaching. The next thing you know, it flipped in the air in front of us.
“At that point my heart was pounding,” he added. “It was unbelievable — lots of excitement on the boat, screaming and yelling. To go on the Long Island Sound and notice the healthy aquatic life, I think it’s an amazing thing and I think the whale is a good sign to the environment.”
Curran was able to capture three sightings of the whale on camera that day.
Janelle Schuh, manager of animal rescue at Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut, said judging by Curran’s video, she believes the mammal is a humpback whale.
There have been no documented sightings of a humpback whale in the area where Curran and the boys were fishing, she said, based on the aquarium’s records going back to 1976.
“The question of whether it’s unusual or not, depends on people contacting us enough so we have accurate recordings,” Schuh said. “I would say its not common to see a whale that far into the Long Island Sound, but it doesn’t mean anything is wrong–it could mean they are just following food.
“The first thing that pops into my head, is those folks on that boat are pretty darn lucky,” she added. “Not many people get to see a whale up that close.”
Because the humpback whale is a protected species, Schuh said, boaters are forbidden by law to move towards the animal.
In Curran’s case, she added, the whale approached his boat, giving he and the boys a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Curran said he is happy to share his videos of the whale with marine biologists and aquatic life experts who are interested in the footage.
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