Whales Surprise Surfer Near Santa Cruz, California Beach (VIDEO)

A surfer and kayakers got quite a surprise when two humpback whales lunged out of the water and nearly came crashing down upon them near Santa Cruz, California.

Barbara Roettger, the woman who shot the video, told ABC News that the group was about a quarter mile from shore when the whales surfaced. Roettger was only 20 feet away from encounter.

According to ABC News, "scientists believe weather patterns have driven fish closer to shore this year and brought the feeding whales with them."

The surprising encounter captured in the video is not the first one in the waters near Santa Cruz. The Associated Press reports that the U.S. Coast Guard has been monitoring a pod of humpbacks that have come within a mile of shore looking for food.

Roettger admitted that whale encounters like hers can be dangerous. "We were crazy to be out there, " she told ABC News. "You're a sitting duck, basically."

Officials are concerned for human safety, especially for kayakers and boaters who try to get a closer look at the creatures. No human injuries have been reported, but "at least one sailboat was damaged this week when it struck a whale."

As for the whales, many groups have spoken out against boats coming too close to the mammals.

Whaling, an historically lucrative business around the world, has come under increasing scrutiny in recent decades. According to the Associated Press, Japan still catches a small number of whales annually, in a "research program opposed by activists who call it commercial whaling in disguise."

Despite an international moratorium on whaling in 1986, Iceland continues the practice. This summer, the U.S. threatened Iceland with "trade and diplomatic sanctions" for its ramped up commercial whaling that was resumed in 2006.