The gaping maw of a humpback whale can open to a width of several meters when engaging in a predatory technique known as lunge feeding. And even though humpbacks feed primarily on small fish and crustaceans, I like to imagine that they enjoy reminding us that they could just as easily fit a few humans inside their mouths, as well. Case in point: the video up top, shot a few days ago off the coast of Santa Cruz, California.
According to Don Croll, an EEB professor at UC Santa Cruz, humpbacks are actually pretty good at avoiding people while they feed, so the surfer and kayakers you see in the video probably weren't in any real danger of getting gobbled up. (Even if they did make it inside the whale's mouth, a humpback's throat is likely too narrow for a human to fit through, anyway—which makes me wonder if a whale would know to spit a human out if it did accidentally scoop one up.)
Of course, humpbacks also weigh in at around 80,000 pounds apiece, so getting too close to one while its breaching is probably still a pretty bad idea, seeing as asking a pod of humpbacks to lunge feed more carefully would be about as useless as asking the seagulls in the video to please be a little quieter as they go about their frantic scavenging.
[Spotted on CBS]