Fin whale lunges across the surface, nearly striking the boat.

A massive fin whale nearly collided with a small boat full of wide-eyed passengers Sunday, as the mammal was lunge-feeding near Tadoussac in Quebec, Canada.

The exciting – and undoubtedly harrowing – encounter was videotaped by Eric Mouellic, who emerged with what he described as an “unforgettable memory.”

In the footage, passengers aboard the yellow inflatable boat can be seen backing away as the whale surfaces while turning on its side, and as it opens wide and lunges toward the boat.

The whale submerges just a few feet from the vessel, as it it were aware of the boat’s presence. Had there been a collision, the boat probably would have capsized, perhaps with disastrous results.

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“We were really lucky,” Mouellic told CBC. “Within 15 minutes of our departure, we saw porpoises, seals, belugas and several finback whales. It was already marvelous. Then there were these two finbacks, one of which passed under the Zodiac without touching the boat.”

The “magical” encounter occurred at the confluence of the Saguenay and St. Lawrence rivers.

Fin whales are the planet’s second-largest whale species – blue whales are the largest – and can measure to about 75 feet. These “greyhounds of the sea” also are very fast, capable of swimming in bursts of up to 28 mph.

Fin whales, like blue whales, often lunge feed through vast blooms of shrimp-like krill, which sometimes rise to the surface.

Fin whales, which were hunted relentlessly during the whaling era, are an endangered species.

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