Some friends were admiring a pod of killer whales while wading in waist-deep water at Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand over the weekend when they were suddenly sent scurrying to shore in a semi-panic.
In a surprise appearance, a killer whale had popped up close to shore prompting screams of “get out of the water” and an abrupt about-face by the five swimmers.
Kelly Lindsay captured video of her friends high-tailing it to shore:
Lindsay identified her friends as Courtney Foster, Olvia Van Schaik, Christina and Shaun Whitehead, and Jared Bekhuis, according to TVNZ. They nicknamed the killer whale Willy.
“[We] spotted three orcas swimming about 50 meters offshore,” Lindsay told Storyful. “[We] weren’t aware of the orca at this stage due to the waves. It wasn’t until one of the orcas branched away from the pod towards the shore that onlookers started shouting out to the swimmers.
“[When] the fin emerged from the water…they turned and ran back to shore in excitement and shock. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see such a beautiful animal up close in the wild. We won’t be forgetting this anytime soon.”
Eventually the other killer whales came in close to shore, too, and lifeguard service chairman Gary Hinds believes he knows why.
“I haven’t seen them come this close in years, and when they do, it’s usually to eat stingrays,” he told stuff.co.nz.
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