A video shot Saturday evening shows kayakers off Royston being circled by killer whales. Dean Stoltz reports.
A Royston family could see several killer whales breaching in the distance Saturday evening so they jumped into their kayaks and paddled out for a closer look.
The video shows the orcas swimming and hunting in the distance.Then shortly afterwards, one orca is seen breaching close to a kayaker.
The people involved did not want to be interviewed about the experience but others in the kayaking community were amazed when they saw the video online.
“Oh I thought it was amazing,” said Sue Brass. “I would have loved to have been there.”
“That’s definitely a once in a lifetime experience I think for paddlers.” said Nicole Vezina.
“I’m sure it was probably a little scary but it was probably just as magical as it was scary.” said Brandon Rhynas.
By Tuesday afternoon the video had been viewed on YouTube over 40,000 times. The video has since been removed.
It is also drawing criticism.
“Not sure if they paddled out too close to them or not. It kind of looks like they’re close.” added Brass.
Whale watching and diving expert Bill Coltart of Big Animal Encounters in Comox says all watercraft are supposed to keep 100 metres away from whales, but that very often the whales move in closer.
“You know it was pretty close and potentially a dangerous situation for sure but you can’t always predict or prevent whales from approaching vessels.” he said.
“I would hazard a guess the whales come to them” added Rhynas. “It looked like they knew there were there. It’s pretty hard to fool them, they’re very intelligent animals so unless they were actually pressing up on them it was probably fair game.”
Coltart says it appears the orcas were hunting and quite often that draws them to nearby vessels.
“Some of the whales have got smart and are able to use the vessel as a tool in a lot of cases to help them with their hunting behaviours.” he said.
The written description on YouTube says they were simply drifting when the pod went towards them, adding it was the most amazing animal experience of their lives.