This is the heart-stopping moment a gigantic whale sprung to the surface just feet away from two stunned kayakers.

Casually minding their own business, the pair were paddling along trying to spot whales in the distance at Monterey Bay in California, USA. But suddenly the 40ft, 80,000lb beast rose out of the water almost within touching distance of the shocked pair who couldn’t believe their eyes. Laws state that nobody can approach a whale within 100 yards of them but the mammal decided to take them by surprise instead. The moment was captured by Giancarlo Thomae, a marine biologist from Moss Landing in California, while on a day trip whale watching last weekend. He said: ‘We were kayak whale watching and the whales just came right up to us. For being some of the largest animals on the planet they were very graceful.  ‘The whole encounter that happened between Karen and I lasted about three-quarters of a second.

‘The whale dove three-feet from her kayak and didn’t get one drop of water in it.  ‘Humpback whales are very curious and playful animals and get very friendly with kayakers and boaters - although maybe sometimes a bit too friendly.