Passengers aboard a whale watching tour off the coast of Newport Beach were treated to a rare and breathtaking sight after a humpback whale gave them the show of a lifetime.

The humpback spent about 30 minutes Friday investigating and entertaining those on board, in a practice called “mugging.”

Mugging happens when a curious whale decides to get up close and personal with a boat and interact with the people on board, according to the Pacific Whale Foundation.

Mark Girardeau, a photographer with Newport Coastal Adventure, said the whale circled the boat for about half an hour while the engines were shut off.

Passengers aboard a whale watching vessel in Newport Beach got the show of a lifetime on Aug. 4, 2023. (Newport Coastal Adventure)
Passengers aboard a whale watching vessel in Newport Beach got the show of a lifetime on Aug. 4, 2023. (Newport Coastal Adventure)

Video shared by the whale watching tour company showed the whale get within feet of the people on board, turning underwater and even blowing bubbles toward the surface.

Girardeau said the experience showcased very rare behavior and this particular whale was “extremely friendly.”

There have been a handful of other close encounters with whales off the coast of Southern California in recent months.

In February, a whale watching tour experienced a close encounter with a pair of gray whales near Dana Point.

In June, also in Dana Point, a minke whale exhibited some playful “puppy”-like behavior directed at a tour.

And even other species have had the chance to get up close with a whale. Last November, an adolescent Australian shepherd came snout-to-snout with a pair of whales in Monterey Bay.