Paddleboarder gets huge surprise in close encounter with humpback whale

“What we've been experiencing at the Jersey Shore these past few weeks is really magical.”

With calm waters perfect for whale watching and knowing a pair of humpback whales had recently been seen feeding less than a mile from the beach, Brian Shea went paddleboarding Saturday off Long Branch beach in New Jersey.

"I usually bring the GoPro with me because you never know what you're going to come across in the ocean," Shea told NBC 10.

What he came across was a huge surprise that was a thrill of a lifetime, and, lucky for us, he managed to capture it on video:

The humpback whale could be seen surfacing in the distance, but a short time later it was coming up for air right beside Shea apparently to check him out, prompting a few whoops from the startled paddler.

Shea wrote on a Facebook post that he's spent more than 40 years on the ocean, from Tahiti to Hawaii to California to the Caribbean, and this experience "was right up there with the best of them."

His family, no doubt, had other thoughts.

When he showed the video to his daughter, who often accompanies him on the water, she told him it was "too close."

Paddleboarder was more in awe than afraid when a humpback whale surprised him off New Jersey.

“Generally I’m not scared of the dolphins or whales as they’re not aggressive, but I also respect their space and appreciate that they are wild animals, so anything can happen,” he told NBC 10.

“With regards to Saturday’s really close encounter, I was more in awe than afraid as I’ve gotten used to being so close to them and view the entire experience as something I’m so fortunate to see in nature.”

Lately, even beachgoers on the Jersey Shore are enjoying whale watching, though perhaps not as close as Shea.

"Over the years we've gotten accustomed to seeing the dolphins on a nearly daily basis through the summer months," Shea explained to NBC 10. "With that, I also appreciate that you could sit on the beach every day for the next 20 years and never see a whale. So what we've been experiencing at the Jersey Shore these past few weeks is really magical."

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