Close Encounter with a Humpback

August 25, 2018

A screen capture from a video taken by Zack Fahey of Wilmington shows a humpback whale coming out of the water right in front of his boat on Aug. 16 off Hampton Beach, N.H. See the video at lowellsun.com. Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

HAMPTON BEACH, N.H. -- One Wilmington man has seen a few whales in his lifetime. But last week, Zack Fahey was the closest he has ever been to the massive mammal -- and he caught it on video.

Fahey, 28, keeps his 20-foot Key Largo Center Console boat in Salisbury, Mass. The lifelong fisherman headed up to Salisbury after work on the evening of Thursday, Aug. 16, with his father and friend. He said they were looking for menhaden fish, bait fish they use to catch striped bass.

“We were looking for them, so we were kind of slowly going north,” Fahey said. “We saw them at the top of the water by Hampton. So, we were hanging out around that area to try and catch the bait fish.”

Fahey said they typically do not go that far north when fishing. But when they noticed a whale in the area of a huge school of fish, they continued in that direction. He took out his phone to begin recording the water around the boat and within seconds, it seemed, a large humpback whale emerged from the water, close to his boat and just in sight of his camera.

“It was really cool. At first I didn’t believe it. It kind of happened so fast, but after when I was thinking about it, I was so amazed that it was so close to the boat. And the second amazing thing I couldn’t believe was I had my camera facing that direction at the time.”

But Fahey said the moments after his close encounter with the whale are a blur. In his excitement, he began sending the video to loved ones.

They didn’t catch many fish that day, but Fahey was fine with that.

“After that happened, I think we just chalked the day up as a win and said we’re not really going to fish,” he said. “It was about 6:30 p.m. when that happened. We didn’t really catch much that day, but then we went out on Sunday and had the best fishing day we’ve ever had.”

Follow Kori Tuitt on Twitter @KoriTuitt.

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