11/28/2012 02:51 pm ET

Whale Watching Australian Family Has Close Encounter With Humpbacks Near Fraser Island (VIDEO)

In this amazing viral video, a father and daughter get incredibly close to a pair of humpback whales off the coast of Fraser Island in Queensland, northeastern Australia.

The whales swim so close to the family's motor-equipped outrigger canoe that the daughter is concerned the giant marine mammals will capsize their vessel, the Herald Sun notes.

The footage was uploaded to YouTube Sept. 13 by user "Graham Snape" but didn't start to go viral until Nov. 28, when it was posted to a Reddit subforum devoted to videos.

Fraser Island, a UNESCO world heritage site, has a reputation for great whale watching. Several companies run whale watching cruises in the calm waters of Hervey Bay.

Done properly, whale watching can promote powerful messages about conservation and ecology, according to the Australian Whale Conservation Society. However, operators and whale watchers have to take care not to stress the whales, chase them, or otherwise interfere with their lives.

Humpback whales feed in polar waters during the summer, and migrate to tropical and sub-tropical regions to mate and give birth in the winter, according to National Geographic. Although the whales can grow to lengths of 60 feet, their main diet is krill and small fish.

Due to aggressive hunting, the global humpback whale population dwindled to less than 5,000 by 1966. An international ban on hunting the whales, which remains in place today, was enacted to prevent extinction.

Despite the success of conservation and recovery efforts, the humpback is still considered an endangered species.

This isn't the first close encounter with a humpback whale to be witnessed this year. In August, a photographer in California took amazing pictures of a humpback whale when it surfaced in a shallow water near boats and people.

Warning: The video above contains some explicit language.



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