Three New Jerseyites got a startling, too-close encounter with an enormous humpback whale that leaped from the sea right next to their 19-foot boat.
The force of the massive creature’s heave from the water rocked the boat and flipped a fish into its bottom.
“Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit,” said Paul Ziolkowski as he managed to barely keep his cool and capture the humpback on video.
Ziolkowski, of Atlantic Highlands, was fishing with companions not far from the Verrazano Narrows separating Staten Island and Brooklyn when the whale suddenly appeared. Ziolkowski boasted: “I got it on film, too!”
“This definitely was one of the craziest experiences in my life and I’ve had many. Who ... would have thought I would see some Moby Dick,” the local welder and mechanic — who goes by the name “Pauly Walnuts” on Facebook — wrote in a post. “These #NewJersey waters are serious.”
Seconds before the encounter, Ziolkowski had spotted the whale chasing Atlantic menhaden, fish also known as “bunker.”
“That humpback was chasing bunker all the way up to the side jumped out of the water and tapped the hull of my boat knocking bunker into the boat. Crazy, I know it sounds like a fish story LOL but these #NewJersey waters are serious,” he wrote.
Ziolkowski has been bowled over by the attention his whale video has attracted. He’s now calling himself the “whale whisperer” on his Facebook page.
Boaters nearby also saw the whale and filmed the encounter. Here’s the view from their angle:
WABC-TV reported that “large numbers” humpback whales are back in the waters off New Jersey and New York for the first tie in a century.