Kayaker Has Remarkable Encounter with Humpback Whales in Coogee

Coogee Humpback Whales
Photo Credit: Robin Cooiman/Instagram

A kayaker had an unforgettable encounter with four majestic humpback whales and his entire experience was fortuitously captured on a remarkable piece of drone footage.  



The incredible incident, which took place in mid-June 2023, left the kayaker in awe by the indescribable experience. 

Danny was on his routine journey from North Bondi to Coogee one Monday morning when he noticed two pairs of humpback whales breaching approximately two kilometers off Bronte. Enraptured by the sight, the local found himself sharing an extraordinary 30-minute moment with the marine giants, paddling together towards North Bondi.

“It’s an amazing feeling to be so close to them. It’s indescribable,” Danny expressed in an interview with other media. “It’s a feeling like nothing else I have experienced, especially when I can see their huge eyes looking at me and hearing the high-pitched songs.”

Fortunately, a quick-thinking photographer, Robin Cooiman, captured the entire encounter using a drone as the whales and the kayaker approached Ben Buckleri. Originally from the Netherlands, he recognised the significance of the footage.  

Mr Cooiman said that he has filmed whales next to boats before but he has yet to capture a moment next to a kayaker. Impressed by the spectacle, Mr Cooiman whistled intensely to catch Danny’s attention, leading to a grateful response.

“I knew it was special footage,” he said.

The heartwarming footage has since generated widespread interest and online admiration. Social media users praised the kayaker’s astonishing encounter, with one person humorously suggesting the nickname “Jonah” in reference to the biblical story of a man swallowed by a whale. 

“Amazing shot! You’re so lucky!” a netizen said whilst another commenter described the moment as “magical.”

Amid the public fascination, concerns have been raised regarding the appropriate proximity of humans to humpback whales. However, in this instance, the massive creatures appeared unfazed by Danny’s company, merely continuing their leisurely journey. The incident serves as a reminder of the importance of respecting wildlife while enjoying their presence.



Humpback whales are a protected species commonly found along the Australian coast. They can be observed in the Eastern Suburbs during the winter months of June, July, and August. 

Published 24-June-2023