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Watch: Wild Orcas Caught Swimming Beside Woman In Rare, Memorable Swim

Judie Johnson of Hadie, New Zealand had the surprise of her life during a recent ocean swim. Thrillingly, she became surrounded by a pod of three orca whales. Far from being shy, these stunning creatures kept Johnson company for a while.

Watch: An Unexpected Orca Encounter

Johnson never thought she’d swim with orcas. When they first approached her she mistook the dark shadow that moved under her for a dolphin — a more typical marine encounter for swimmers. She thought she’d be lucky to swim with a dolphin and couldn’t believe it when she recognized the black and white markings of the orcas.

After identifying the orcas, she was afraid and left the water. In her black wetsuit, she knew might be mistaken for a seal —  their favorite food. But then she realized that she was passing up on a once in a lifetime opportunity. She changed her mind and re-entered the water to see what would happen.

Playful Whales Stick Around

Luckily for Johnson, the orcas were in the mood for a human/whale swim. The three stayed near her for quite some time. There were moments when Johnson felt she could look dead-straight into their eyes and connect with them.


According to Johnson, the encounter was joyful and life-changing. Better yet, the entire experience was caught on film. Photographer Dylan Brayshaw happened to be in the area with a drone camera. When he saw there was a swimmer with the whales he began filming it.

A Risky Encounter

The encounter was risky but had a beautiful outcome. While it is true that no wildlife should be approached by humans, there are several other instances where orcas demonstrate the playful curiosity Johnson experienced.

OCVA on Flickr

Orcas have been known as killer whales, particularly because of aggressive behavior they can demonstrate while in captivity. They are not necessarily dangerous while in the wild but are strong enough to take down prey that is even larger than humans. Luckily, Johnson had a beautiful experience, something she will remember for the rest of her life.

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