Residents of Vancouver's Kitsilano Beach area had a rare treat this weekend, when a grey whale ventured into their neighbourhood for a swim just offshore.

Former CNN cameraman Peter Williams was relaxing on the beach when he first spotted the visitor.

"Suddenly there was this huge plume just appeared," Williams told CTV News.

"I phoned my wife and said you gotta get a camera down here and people had gathered at that stage and I had the smallest little camera that I had and managed to get some shots."

While the whale's sudden appearance delighted many by surprise, UBC oceanographer Dr. Andrew Trites saw no cause for concern.

"There's no sign the whale's in trouble. The whale is doing what whales do. It knows how it got here, it knows how to get out," Trites told CTV News.

The whale also knew, it seems, how to draw a crowd.

"The crowd kept getting bigger and bigger and the whale started coming across into the point and almost into the swimming area before it turned and was being followed by a couple of kayakers," excited witness Kate Loktin told CTV.

"I just wanted to jump right in with him and ride on his back. He probably would've killed me."

Dr. Trites believes such caution is well-founded.

"People should be cautious, these are huge animals. They've got no appreciation for what one swat of the tail might do and while the whale may not be aggressive, people can very easily get hurt."

This is not the first spectacular sea mammal to spend an afternoon in Vancouver. In May, another grey whale took its own tour of False Creek the day before an estimated 150 dolphins frolicked in Horseshoe Bay.

Experts predict such visits could become more common, as species that used to populate the region in large numbers appear to be re-colonizing.

With files from CTV's Penny Daflos in Vancouver