Friendly grey whale floats over to boat of holidaymakers in Italy

This is the incredible moment a huge grey whale relaxed in an Italian bay then approached a group of holidaymakers in a dinghy – allowing one overwhelmed woman to touch it.

The amazing scene was filmed off the Port of Baia in Bacoli on the Gulf of Naples in the Italian region of Campania on April 18.

The grey whale (Eschrichtius robustus), which usually live in the Pacific Ocean between Alaska and California, appeared a few days before off the island of Ponza, the largest of the Pontine Islands archipelago in the Italian province of Latina.

In the footage, filmed by a group of visitors playing in a dinghy off the Port of Baia, the grey whale can be seen relaxing in the small bay before approaching the stunned passengers.

A woman is heard saying ‘it’s a beautiful scene’ and ‘it’s playing with us’.

At one point, the large whale sidled up to the dinghy to allowed the woman to touch it.

The dinghy then moved away slowly so as not to frighten the whale and to entice it to follow them away from the coast where there was a risk of it beaching itself.

Experts believe it is the first time a grey whale has been seen in Italian waters and it is currently being monitored by the coast guard, the port authority, and the Anton Dohrn Zoological Institute.

It was last observed moving away from Capo Miseno at the north-western point of the Gulf of Naples.

The local authorities advised residents not to get too close to cetaceans as they are easily spooked and can be injured by boat propellers.

If encountering a whale close to the coast, they suggest keeping a distance of at least 20 metres and immediately informing the port authority.