They are the largest animals to have ever lived on Earth and can cause serious injury with a mere flip of their tail.
But one man braved the Pacific Ocean in just a kayak to capture these rare images of blue whales at play.
Rick Coleman posted a video of his sea voyage off the coast of Redondo Beach, California, on YouTube to give viewers a glimpse of the 100 feet, 200 ton mammals up close.
He even got out of his relatively small vessel to film the huge beasts underwater, using his GoPro1080 camera.
In a video shot a week earlier and also posted on YouTube, Mr Coleman catches a blue whale emitting a spectacular vertical spout of water while coming to the surface to breath.
The spouts can reach up to 39 feet high.
Of his October 9 experience, Mr Coleman said on the site: 'A whale lunge feeding right next to the Kayak, plus some underwater footage.
'While the lunge feed was heart pounding excitement, I found that seeing one underwater was relaxing and peaceful. Was an awesome day!'
He also cautioned against anyone trying a similar thing.
'I'd like to take a moment to state that I don't recommend, endorse or in any way want to encourage anyone to try and swim with these whales,' he wrote.
'The whales are large unpredictable animals and potentially dangerous. I’ve talked to the NOAA and would like to share these Whale Watching Guidelines from the NOAA site'
Mr Coleman said that the whales have been swimming approximately three to five miles out from the King Harbor port, and that there is a small dock for launching kayaks by hand.
Of his October 1 trip, Mr Coleman wrote: 'One Blue Whale obscured my lens with some whale spit. Another popped up much closer than expected and I had to hit the brakes.
It was absolutely incredible to be in the presence of such a remarkable animal.
The Blue Whale is the largest creature to ever inhabit planet earth.'
Photograph: Paul Schraub/AP
According the National Geographic, blue whale tongues alone 'can weigh as much as an elephant. Their hearts, as much as an automobile.'
There are only between 10,000 and 25,000 blue whales still swimming the world's oceans after aggressive hunting in the 1900s by whalers seeking whale oil drove them to the brink of extinction.
They have been on the endangered species list since the 1960s but have managed only a minor recovery since then.