‘Literally just feet away’: Orcas stampede past onlookers on Gabriola Island


A pod of orcas put on a show for onlookers on Gabriola Island earlier this week.

Videos show more than a dozen orcas swimming just metres off the shore of Malaspina Galleries on Wednesday morning.

Gabriola resident Shayla Young was one of the lucky people who got to see the orcas up close.

“I didn’t even know how to react,” she told CHEK News on Friday.

Young says she was tempted to jump in or put her hand out to touch them, but knew better.

“So I sat back and said, ‘Oh my gosh,’ like an eight-year-old in awe,” she said.

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A few dozen people were gathered on shore watching the dozens of orcas swim by.

Young says the orcas were about 30 to 40 metres off shore when she first arrived, with a tourist boat nearby watching them.

Shortly after, the orcas “decided to do a U-turn” and headed straight for the Malaspina Galleries where Young was standing.

“Not 30, not 20, not 10 metres away, but literally just a few feet away,” she said.

Other people on shore took videos of the orcas stampeding past onlookers. Young says the orcas stayed for several hours, and that some were rubbing their bellies along the rocks for a little scratch.

“I still can’t even fathom it,” she said Friday. “I still feel the same way [as I did then], I’m just ecstatic.”

On Thursday, the Orca Behavior Institute said there were more than 130 orcas recorded in the Salish Sea that day.

More than 70 of the orcas were confirmed to be Southern Resident Killer Whales, while about 60 were Bigg’s killer whales.

Adam ChanAdam Chan

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