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Swimmers' incredible encounter with whales off Bondi Beach: ‘Pure joy’

A group taking their morning swim off Sydney's Bondi Beach were given the greeting of a lifetime from two humpback whales on Monday.

The swimmers were about 300 metres from shore and making their way across the bay at around 6.45am when they noticed several drones overhead.

“I was just taking my time to bliss out and look at the sunrise when I noticed that there were three drones all hovering over the same point, about 50 metres away,” Bondi swimmer Jim Finn told Yahoo News Australia.

Thinking it might be a pod of dolphins, the swimmers paused to check it out.

“About 10 seconds after that, I saw the pectoral fin of a humpback appear and I just started flipping out and screaming, ‘whale, whale’, to the other girls,” Jim said.

“We all just became excited children!”

A group of swimmers next to a humpback whale in the ocean off Bondi Beach.
A group of swimmers have had an incredible experience swimming next to two whales off Bondi Beach. Source: Jason Sutcliffe (Jason Sutcliffe)

To the group’s astonishment, the whale then turned to face them.

“I actually had to get out of the way because it was swimming right towards me and I thought I was going to get hit by it, but I could have reached out and touched it with my arms, it was just two feet away,” Jim said.

“I bobbed back for a second and then just sort of swam really gently alongside it. I could see right into its eye and as I moved around its eye was tracking me.”

“It was just unbelievable. Just one of those absolutely pure moments of joy in nature.”

What Jim didn’t realise was that he was in fact swimming with two whales.

Local videographer Jason Sutcliffe captured the incredible moment from the sky.

“I first saw them [the two whales] at Tamarama while taking pictures of the glowing sky at 6.15am so I drove to Bondi to meet them there,” he told Yahoo News Australia.

“It’s a crazy feeling seeing them. And it’s great to share it [the footage] and put a smile on peoples faces.”

“It’s not something you see from that perspective everyday.”

For Jim, who’s used to swimming with dolphins, stingrays, grey nurse sharks and huge schools of fish, it’s not something he’ll forget any time soon.

“Whales have always been at the top of my list, and today the dream came true.”

“I am on such a high today and honestly I can’t get the smile off my face.”

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