Surfing orca catches wave of the day off New Zealand

Footage showing an orca stylishly surfing a wave off New Zealand is making a splash on the Internet.

The video clip, posted to Facebook on Tuesday by MPORA.de, contains a description translated from German: “This orca takes in the hunting in Pungarehu off the coast of New Zealand.”

orca
Surfing orca slices through a wave.
The surfing orca footage was captured by Stefan Bienert at Pungarehu in Taranaki, on the west side of North Island.

Messages to Bienert, asking when this occurred, had not been answered at the time of this post. However, Pete Garbett, a marine mammal researcher from Australia, recalled seeing the clip as long ago as 2011.

But it has gained a new audience. Since being posted on Tuesday, the clip has been viewed nearly 200,000 times and shared nearly 1,700 times.

But is the orca hunting or merely surfing for enjoyment?

There appears to be a dark form in front of the orca at the beginning of the clip, which would imply hunting behavior.

However, New Zealand’s orcas are famous for riding waves just for fun.

Ingrid Visser, a foremost authority on New Zealand’s distinct population of orcas, once told GrindTV that surfing is part of their culture — and that the bigger the waves, the better.

“They’ll often come right out of the back of the waves and breach out into the trough that follows behind, and that’s really exciting to see as well,” Visser said.

But the male orca is clearly ripping, with its dorsal fin generating a brisk spray in the stiff offshore wind, and he appears to have the surf break all to himself.

Truly a moment every surfer can appreciate.

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