A whale gave a free diver off the coast of Tasmania a once-in-a-lifetime experience when it swam up to him and said hello with what he described as a "nose boop".

Kaeo Landon Lane was filming in the water at Bicheno when two southern right whales drifted slowly towards him, appearing through the soft murk of the sea. One of the whales came right up to Lane, who stuck out his hand.

The whale then gently touched his hand with its nose, before turning and swimming away, only to return several more times. Lane said the whale was originally going for a chest bump, but he thought better of it.

"We stopped our small motor (boat) over 100 metres away and I hopped in the water," Lane told Storyful. "I swam away from the boat and they shadowed into view a couple of times, where I would stay completely still. The visibility was at least 20 metres.

"The third time they came into view they were pointing at me, and slowly coming closer. There were a lot of things going through my head, but fear was not high on that list. They didn't feel threatening. It got so close I could see the hairs on her chin.

"I remember thinking, 'that's close enough now.' It aimed for the centre of my chest. I didn't feel comfortable with the chest bump, so I reached out my hand so that I could keep some small distance.

"Pushing against it I felt its enormity, being that close to it and feeling so small against it. It held that touch for a moment, before backing up with its tail and moving past me. My thigh was now on another collision course with its pectoral flipper, which gently bumped me sideways as it glided past.

"They returned once I swam back to the boat, once again floating past slowly three more times. My dad then got in the water as well, and they came back another four times, kicking with their (tails) in slow motion."

According to Whales.org, southern right whales, which have the largest testes in the animal kingdom, "are so named because whalers considered them the 'right whale' to catch, being easy to approach, swimming slowly, living close to shore and floating when dead to make access to their valuable oil, meat and whalebone simpler."

southern right whale
The moment a free diver met with a southern right whale YouTube/Storyful