- Rupert Kirkwood came across the whales 12 miles off coast in Plymouth, Devon
- The 60-year-old heard sound of a blowhole and was soon greeted by the whale
- He said his outing on Wednesday was the most whales he had ever seen
A kayaker came within feet of three enormous minke whales while paddling off the Devon coast.
Rupert Kirkwood, 60, spends his spare time miles out at sea documenting marine wildlife.
To his surprise he was greeted by a group of minke whales when he was 12 miles off the coast of Plymouth on Wednesday.
He was near the Eddystone Lighthouse when he heard the sound of a whale's blowhole.
The keen kayaker went to investigate and soon spotted three individual whales just breaking the surface of the water.
Mr Kirkwood said: 'This was my 20th trip out to the Eddystone and as usual I was full of expectation of encounters with amazing marine megafauna.
'Mind you, I am always full of expectation when I go out to the 'Eddy and have often been disappointed, not just exhausted, when I get back.
Rupert said it was a good day for sightings as he also spotted a pod of 20 common dolphins and a group of porpoises.
He continued: 'I sped towards the source of the noise and after going flat out for 10 minutes saw a big slow motion back break the surface, a minke whale.
'I sat and watched as the whale had a series of breaths.
'At one stage it was about to come up right beneath my kayak and left an enormous tail fluke print of swirling water at the surface.
'It then moved away so I paddled after it and then it popped up precisely where I had been sitting 10 minutes previously.
'Minke whales travel fast and cover very long distances between breaths.
On a couple of previous occasions I have heard a whale blow once, and heard, or seen, nothing more.
'I had difficulty dragging myself away but eventually headed in when the whale seemed to disappear off to the west.
Mr Kirkwood said it was the most whales he had ever seen in one day.