It’s something most of us can only ever dream of. You’re swimming in the ocean, minding your own business, when suddenly a family of sleek marine mammals materialises, joining you as you glide through the water.
That’s what happened to not one, but two swimmers off the coast of New Zealand in recent weeks, as they were joined in the water by families of cavorting orcas (Orcinus orca).
A video currently in the process of going viral was shot by photographer Dylan Brayshaw at Hahei Beach on December 4. He describes seeing a swimmer heading towards a group of three orcas, which began to swim around her.
She got out of the water to collect herself, and when she returned, Brayshaw started filming. The video is absolutely breathtaking – a small family of orcas, including two juveniles, weaving around the swimmer as she pulls herself through the ocean waters.
Some facts about Orcas:
The orca is the apex predator of the sea and the largest member of the dolphin family. It is highly intelligent, highly adaptable and able to communicate and coordinate hunting tactics. Not typically a migratory species, orca ‘migrations’ are principally in response to changes in favoured prey abundance and can sometimes be long, e.g between Alaska and California. Depending on the type of social group and location, orcas will hunt fish, squid, seals, sea lions, seabirds and even whales much larger than themselves. There has never been a documented attack on a human in the wild, and there are some stories of orcas actually protecting humans at sea from sharks. The taxonomy of this genus however is clearly in need of review, and it is likely that Orcinus orca will be split into a number of different species or at least subspecies over the next few years – for example resident’s versus transients.
We know that orcas are remarkably intelligent; they have distinctive language dialects that differ between pods, and are even thought to have developed culture, with complex behaviours that vary according to region and pod.
And doesn’t their beauty just fill you with joy, swimming free in the sparkling ocean?