• A screenshot from a video showing a humpback whale breaching close to a kayaker. Watch the video below. (Image via Instagram user johnnyvanuck)

A Vancouver man will have a whale of a tale to tell his friends in years to come.

Instagram user "johnnyvanuck" set out by kayak with a friend April 11 in search of a humpback whale that had reportedly been spotted feeding in English Bay.

"My heart started racing when I saw small fish swimming to the surface in a frenzy. I knew it was close," he wrote in the caption of the video he later posted to Instagram – but he didn't know how close. The whale suddenly breached right next to the man's kayak, its flukes appearing to pass within inches of the boat as it dove back down.

Humpbacks are a common sight in the Strait of Georgia and Howe Sound during the spring but rarely venture into the bay, where there is more boat traffic and noise to scare them off, whale expert Tessa Danelesko told Metro News Vancouver.

While johnnyvanuck called the encounter "the most amazing wildlife experience of my life," it's important to remember that whales are wild animals that can behave unpredictably, putting paddlers' safety at risk.

Commenting on a similar video from 2014 in which a southern right whale lifts a kayak out of the water, Aaron Rice, Director of the Bioacoustics Research Program at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology at Cornell University, told Canoe & Kayak, "If you are so fortunate as to see marine mammals while paddling, the best thing to do is to give them some space.”