The Whale Detective (Image Gallery)

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In September 2015, a 30-ton humpback whale breached and just missed landing on wildlife filmmaker Tom Mustill and his friend Charlotte Kinloch as they kayaked in Monterey Bay, California. Both survived the incident, but the traumatic experience haunted Mustill (Nature – Giraffes: Africa’s Gentle Giants) and left him wondering if the whale was deliberately trying to hurt them or trying its best not to. To find the answer, Mustill returns to California to investigate, meeting with whale experts and those who have survived similar close encounters. What he discovers raises far bigger questions, not just about what happened that day, but also about humans’ relationship with whales and their future.

You can still catch The Whale Dete on the PBS website.

Natural World_Humpback Whale - A Detective Story
A humpback whale dives while a kayaker looks on in Monterey Bay, California. Credit: © Michael Sack Sanctuary Cruises
Natural World_Humpback Whale - A Detective Story
A humpback whale breaches very close to whale watchers. Credit: © Tom Mustill
Natural World_Humpback Whale - A Detective Story
A humpback whale breaches very close to whale watchers. Credit: © Viralhog
Natural World_Humpback Whale - A Detective Story
Dr. Joy Reidenberg, an anatomy expert, holds up a plate of baleen which acts as a food filter inside a humpback’s mouth. Credit: © Tim Burgess
Natural World_Humpback Whale - A Detective Story
Dr. Joy Reidenberg, an anatomy expert, holds up a plate of baleen which acts as a food filter inside a humpback’s mouth. Credit: © Tim Burgess
Natural World_Humpback Whale - A Detective Story
Filmmaker Tom Mustill and Charlotte Kinloch holding onto other whale watchers’ kayak after surviving the whale breaching onto them. Credit: © Michael Sack Sanctuary
Natural World_Humpback Whale - A Detective Story
Filmmaker Tom Mustill interviews a fellow whale-near-miss survivor. Credit: © Tim Burgess
Natural World_Humpback Whale - A Detective Story
The moment a humpback whale breached onto Filmmaker Tom Mustill and Charlotte Kinloch. Credit: © Michael Sack Sanctuary Cruises
Natural World_Humpback Whale - A Detective Story
A curious young humpback whale approaches cinematographer Howard Hall. Credit: © Michele Hall
Natural World_Humpback Whale - A Detective Story
Cinematographer Howard Hall films a mother humpback and her calf in Mo’orea. Credit: © Michele Hall
Detective-work
Tom Mustill investigates the clues that may help him discover the individual whale that almost hit him in 2015. Credit: © Gripping Films
Finished-Map
Tom Mustill investigates the clues that may help him discover the individual whale that almost hit him in 2015. Credit: © Gripping Films
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The number one question on Tom Mustill’s mind: Who is the whale that breached and almost hit him on that fateful day? Credit: © Gripping Films

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