Killer closeup: Skipper opens up about close encounter of the orca kind
The skipper of a whale-watching boat who captured amazing video of a frolicking pod of killer whales off the Northern Peninsula says the encounter was a delightful surprise for his passengers.
Kier Knudsen of Dark Tickle Expeditions, based in Griquet near the tip of the peninsula, was taking a group of tourists on a whale-watching tour when something special happened, he said.
[The passengers'] eyeballs were all like frying pans.- Kier Knudsen
"We were sittin', I'd say, a half-mile to a mile offshore and watching, actually, three humpbacks," he said.
"And then just out of nowhere, I guess what they had done was swam under the boat from behind us and just blew right by the side of the boat. The spray almost hit me in the face."
He said the orcas' appearance took everyone on the boat by surprise.
"[The passengers'] eyeballs were all like frying pans."
Knudsen says the orcas spent quite some time frolicking around the Zodiac-type boat, putting on a great show for the tourists.
"They would come up by the side of the boat and roll, go underneath and at least on one occasion, we could feel the orca rubbing his belly on the [the hull of the] boat."
Despite their Shark Week reputation, Knudsen says nobody was scared by the killer whale's behaviour. He said they all sensed the mammals were just being playful and inquisitive.
We could feel the orca rubbing his belly on the [the hull of the] boat.- Kier Kundsen
In fact, he was more concerned for the safety of the whales than his human passengers.
"One in particular seemed to be pretty interested in the propeller. So as soon as we saw him approach the boat we pulled the motor out of gear."
He says the pod of orcas disappeared for a while but rejoined the boat twice to play as it returned to shore.
Knudsen said its the closest he's ever been to orcas as a guide.