Is there anyone you would love to meet? And what if they were equally excited to meet you? This is exactly what happened to whale enthusiast Adam Ernster during a recent expedition in Baja, Mexico. After spending years documenting whales from afar, his dream of meeting the gentle giants finally came true. As much as he enjoyed the experience, it seems Margarita the whale was just as enthused, as she seemed to make happy noises throughout the encounter.
A video posted by Silver Shark Adventures shows a thrilled Ernster getting to pet, hug, and even kiss a whale. “When you are the one usually behind the camera, [and] finally getting your dream moment with one of the most special animals that you live to document,” the whale-watching company captioned the video. “Safe to say, everyone onboard enjoyed watching [Ernster] get his life changing moment in the sun with Margarita[,] one of the most friendly whales we have ever encountered on our adventures with the grey whales.”
In the footage, Ernster smiles wide as he pets Margarita, before going in for a hug and a handful of kisses on the whale's barnacle-covered head. As affecting as the video is, there is another perspective from the moment that reveals that the whale is having the time of her life as well. In a video posted to Reddit, the original footage features the noises made by the whale, which can only be described as a “cetacean purr.”
According to the National Ocean Service (NOS), whales make noise to communicate, locate food, and find each other. “The three main types of sounds made by whales are clicks, whistles, and pulsed calls,” the NOS explains. “Whistles and pulsed calls are used during social activities. Pulsed calls are more frequent and sound like squeaks, screams, and squawks to the human ear.” Additionally, in a study published by The Journal of Experimental Biology, marine biologist Sam Ridgway reveals that fellow marine mammals like dolphins and beluga whales make “victory squeals,” or child-like noises when they’re happy.
In the whale-watching videos, Margarita seems to love the rubs so much that she even goes back to Ernster. “Known for displaying friendly and unpredictable behaviors, Margarita decides to return for more attention just as Adam thinks this encounter is done,” the Silver Shark Adventures shares alongside a clip of Margarita going back to Ernster's side of the boat. The man is visibly emotional as he gets to interact with the whale once more and say goodbye.
Ernster, an experienced whale videographer, captured his encounter with a longer video he uploaded to YouTube. Looking back at the experience, he wrote, “This beautiful interaction is a stark contrast to the past, where these gentle creatures were hunted to near extinction. Today, they show a unique curiosity towards the very beings that once threatened their existence.” He adds that a lot of care goes into these encounters. “The locals involved in this highly regulated experience work hard to protect the whales and their habitats, ensuring the health and abundance of these magnificent creatures for generations to come.”
Ernster also appreciated the opportunity to share this love for whales with others. The more that people are aware of their beauty and friendliness, the more that can be done for them and their habitats. “As incredible as my experience was with the gray whales of Ojo de Liebre, watching others connect with these giants from the depths filled me with so much hope for the future,” he stated. “I’m fortunate to get to spend my days surrounded by wildlife of all sorts. It’s a privilege I will never ever take for granted. But to see people travel from all walks of life, from all around the world to experience THIS connection was surreal. It makes me more and more thankful for this little blue ball everyday.”
Adam Ernster, a videographer and whale enthusiast, had his dream come true of getting up close to these gentle giants of the sea.
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The videos of the encounter not only shows how thrilled Ernster was to meet the whales…
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