From Florida Today Kayaker gets pulled under by whale By JORDAN KAHN FROM THE GULLET Nobody knows what kind of whale it was. And no one believes the whale attacked. Only this much is certain, a close encounter of the cetacean kind did occur Saturday in Flagler Beach and a kayaker was pulled underwater. Jack Kemper of Palm Coast was only feet away when it happened. A regular at the Flagler Beach Pier, a social place where nicknames prevail, Kemper and a man he knows only as "Pilgrim" had been meeting on Saturdays for three weeks to go fishing in their kayaks when it happened. They were around 300 yards out in the ocean when just 10 feet in front of them a whale surfaced and blew its spout. What happened next was so shocking, Kemper said, "My brain couldn't catch up with what my eyes were telling me. . . All of a sudden my buddy's kayak went down backwards underwater." Kemper said "Pilgrim" and about two thirds of the length of his kayak's hull went under. The whale had his anchor line, but in only 14-feet of water, the whale couldn't dive deep and "Pilgrim" quickly bobbed up. When he resurfaced, his kayak was upside down and he was "bear-hugging it," Kemper said. And the whale was pulling him out to sea. Naturally, because what are friends for, Kemper started to unpack his camera. But when the whale's huge tail slapped the water, missing "Pilgrim" by inches, "Pilgrim" started screaming for help. Kemper ditched his camera for a knife, paddled hard to catch up and cut the rope. "I was a little scared," Kemper said, "I knew I was right there in the range of where his tail was at." Shaken but uninjured, "Pilgrim" climbed back in his kayak, Kemper snapped a few photos of the now distant whale and they paddled for shore. Kemper hasn't been able to get ahold of "Pilgrim" since because his phone got wet in the dunking. And though many people at the pier know "Pilgrim," nobody knew his real name or how to reach him. Kemper saw the anchor line running through the whale's mouth and one of the whale watchers who contacted him about the incident said whales will grab things and bat them with their tails in play. Julie Albert, the right whale program coordinator with the Marine Resources Council, said she thinks the anchor line snagged in the whale's baleen and it was just a case of wrong place, wrong time. There were other witnesses. Bob Burns said the guys on the end of the pier laughed. "Whales don't hurt people so we thought it was actually funny," he said. A lifeguard who saw it thought a kayaker went swimming, "trying to be one with the whale." Kemper said, "I told him, 'No! No! That's not what happened. We didn't want to be one with the whale!" A marine biologist at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Kemper's grainy photos show what could be a small humpback whale or a similar looking but smaller species called a minke whale. jordan.kahn Fish tows surf angler out to firstname.lastname@example.org Thomas Hunt was surf fishing by the jetty in Ponce Inlet in September 1976 when a 4-foot long jack crevalle grabbed his line and gave him a one-in-a-million tale to tell. The fish took line so fast, Hunt started swimming after it and soon found himself at the end of the jetty rocks, more than a football field's length out in the sea. That's when his wife, Pam, paddled a surfboard out to him. An hour later, Hunt was still battling the jack, sitting on his surfboard. He got towed out so far people on the beach began to loose sight of him. Nearing the bell buoy about 3/4 of a mile offshore, an angler in an outboard pulled Hunt into his boat and he got the fish, only narrowly escaping becoming the fish's catch. Surfers vs. tarpon You don't want to mess around with a tarpon, a fish that can grow to 8-feet long and 200 pounds. But what do you do when a tarpon decides to mess with you? In April 2001, John "Casey" McDermott of Edgewater was surfing in New Smryna Beach when a 5-foot long, 100-pounder jumped from a wave, turning from unseen fish into airborne missile. It hit McDermott in the head, knocking him out cold. The blow left him unconscious for hours, broke his nose and gave him multiple lacerations. There once was a surfer here who purposely looked to cross paths with these fish. In 1962, The News-Journal ran a story about Gaulden Reed fishing for tarpon from his surfboard. He has said the trick is to not get towed to Africa! Ray bedevils boaters Imagine a manta ray weighing 2,000 pounds with a wingspan over 15 feet flying out of the water and crashing down on top of your boat. It happened May 1979 to New Smyrnans Ronnie Moore Jr., his son Ronnie III, Mike Green and Samsula resident "Shorty" Tomazin while they were following rays to fish for cobia. That same year, one of these big "devil" rays, as they used to be called, got tangled in the anchor line of a boat, started pulling it, got loose, then got snagged in another boat's line and towed it four miles out before shaking free. Gator bites flats skiff In March 2006, Capt. Doug Buchanan of Ormond Beach crossed paths with the wrong gator. The 10-foot gator was blocking a slough in the Mosquito Lagoon. Expecting it to move, he slowly poled ahead, but the gator struck, crunching fiberglass and foam. It started climbing aboard one bite at a time so he jabbed his push pole at it. The gator snapped a foot off the end of the pole and Buchanan backed away. "It about knocked me off my poling platform," he said.