A family in California enjoyed the trip of a lifetime after a baby gray whale swam up to their boat looking for strokes for around an hour.

The amazing video was captured by Dave Anderson, who runs Captain Dave's Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari in Baja.

Dave explained that gray whale calves often enjoy people petting them, especially in their mouth and baleen (the part that serves as a filter for catching small food), and likened it to a teething child looking for comfort by having its gums rubbed.

Captain Dave uploaded the video to dolphinsafari.com, and wrote: "This grey whale calf in Magdalena Bay spent nearly an hour with us in one of the best encounters I have ever had with a whale in my life. And I have had many."

One girl can be heard exclaiming: "You are the best baby whale!"

Dave says the whales, which can grow to as long as 50 feet and weigh as much as 40 tons, approach their boats on their own seeking human contact, adding: "No one feeds them or does anything to entice them."

Captain Dave keeps a count on his website of whale sightings, and has spotted eight in one day.

But it's not always such a warm welcome for these beautiful creatures. Dave says gray whales have one of the longest and most dangerous migrations of any mammal in the world, writing: "They have to watch out for killer whales which kill up to 35% of their calves, aboriginal hunters in Russia which are allowed to kill up to 140 a year, and they must avoid ships and getting entangled in fishing gear which kills nearly 1,000 dolphins and whales a day (308,000 a year) worldwide."

Captain Dave's Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari offers daily, year-round, dolphin and whale watching trips from Dana Point Harbour aboard a hi-tech catamaran with Eye-to-Eye Underwater Viewing Pods and live broadcasting from dolphinsafari.com.

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