VIDEO: Tour boat experiences ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ encounter with humpback whale

KONA, Hawaii (KHNL/KGMB/Gray News) - A tour boat crew member in Hawaii shared an epic whale encounter caught on video.

Kelsi Kauhane, with Hawaiian Adventures Kona, shared a video of the humpback whale on Tuesday.

“Once-in-a-lifetime experience for sure,” Kauhane said. “I’ve been working on the water for over nine years now professionally and I’ve never had an encounter like that before ever.”

According to Kauhane, the Hawaiian Adventures boat was heading north along the Kona coast, near Makalawena Beach, when the crew spotted the whale.

The crew said that after about 10 minutes of moving alongside the animal — keeping a 200-yard distance — the whale suddenly turned and made a direct approach to the boat, circling them for more than 30 minutes.

“The interaction we had was almost spiritual. It felt like it was coming to see us. Usually, we’re looking to find them,” Kauhane said.

Kauhane added it felt like the whale was almost people-watching.

Whale watchers in the area have a chance to volunteer and help count humpback whales during the annual Sanctuary Ocean Count. The first event this year is scheduled for Jan. 28.