Close encounters with whales in Nags Head

Posted at 7:10 PM, Jun 05, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-06 06:37:36-04

Nags Head, NC - While whale sightings are not uncommon off the coast of North Carolina, there have been several up close and personal experiences in Nags Head this week.

Daryl Law, assistant manager for Jennette's Pier, was taking photos of a Humpback Whale that was feeding right next to the pier Saturday morning when he noticed a kayaker in the water.

"I noticed there was a kayaker out there and my brain started turning and I'm thinking kayaker and the whale would be really great to have in the same shot because it gives it scale," Law explained.

Law talked to the kayaker, Delane Heath of Mt. Airy, North Carolina, afterwards and he had quite the story to share.

"The adrenaline was flowing, he was nervous," Law explained. "When they bite the oily fish -menhaden are really oily- it makes a slick. So, he found himself in the middle of the slick and was like: 'You know, is this thing underneath me?'"

The very next day on Sunday, a humpback was again feeding near the pier, this time within feet of a swimmer.

"A guy was out in the surf just wading out  and a whale came up and got a bite of the menhaden right near this guy - it was really something else," Law explained.

Seeing whales is nothing new for the staff at Jennette's Pier, however, they are typically seen in the winter and spring according to pier manager Mike Remige.

"That one in particular was obviously feeding on menhaden but generally they are just passing by. We are part of their migratory path," Remige said.

This year, there have been increased whale sightings in Nags Head and Remige says that has brought more visitors to the pier.