SNOWSHOE MAGAZINE FEATURED ARTICLE:

SUP And The Totally Unexpected: Close Encounters With Creatures of the Deep

No matter how sharp your senses, life has a habit of throwing an unexpected surprise or two. Imagine gliding along on your paddleboard taking in the scenery, when with no warnings or fanfares, an orca surfaces next to you. Not your everyday occurrence, but that is what happened to Luke Reilly off the coast of New Zealand.

The wayward giant spent a good five minutes checking Luke out. Though it appears this close encounter was more curiosity than anything malicious. The whole event left Luke somewhat shaken even though he’d had a similar experience the previous year.

Close Encounters with Dolphins

Photo courtesy of Max Pixel

A day’s paddling off the coast of South Africa during the Vintners Surf Classic ended up as a battle of wits between one contestant and a school of dolphins. The crowd got an unexpected bonus during this annual fiesta at Stillbay, though it was difficult to decide who got more applause. One of the members of the playful pod sent the contestant – Bernard La Roux -literally flying!  Although, fortunately, he had a relatively soft landing.

Close Encounters with Sharks

Close encounters with creatures of the deep, however, aren’t always as playful. Imagine chasing a great white shark – albeit a juvenile – while paddling off Southern California. Such was the case for Wagner Deabreu at Manhatten Beach. It seems his close encounter was potentially one of several as the area is a perfect feeding ground. But anyone planning to throw caution to the wind in the hunt for their own great white needs to remember it is illegal to harass them – if not a little dangerous.

And danger reared its ugly head for Mike Durand when he set out on his paddleboard. It arrived in the form of a nine-foot-long great white shark. This shark seemed more than a little curious about Mike’s board. Albeit this visitor was half the size of a full-grown adult, and the encounter only lasted for a few moments, it left Mike’s nerves somewhat frayed.

Close Encounters with Whales

The coast of California was also the scene of a SUP encounter and then some. Laguna Beach produced the surprise of a lifetime for Rich German when he discovered he was sharing his paddle with an endangered blue whale. At times he was only a few feet from this giant mammal of the deep. You can bet the whole event is one both parties are unlikely to forget in a hurry.

Photo courtesy of Max Pixel

If getting up close and personal with one marine mammal isn’t enough for most, consider the experience of one young woman paddler off the coast at Santa Cruz. Not only was her encounter just a little too close for comfort, but she must’ve believed she was seeing double. Two humpback whales surfaced just a few yards away. An encounter which must’ve set the pulse racing and hardly what you’d expect during a normal day’s paddling.

With Rich German, it was anything but a normal paddle when he had what he described as a dream encounter with a small pod of orcas off the Southern California coast at Laguna Beach. Naturally inquisitive, this family of four gave Rich the experience of his life as they swam beneath and around him.

And that’s the great thing about SUP. It gives you a perfect workout, it gives you the chance to see things at ground level – and at a leisurely pace. Most of all, it sometimes throws in the odd surprise or two.

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